Swimming action kicked off in style at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Saturday evening. The opening day heats already offered fierce contests especially in the 400m events where only the top eight could make the Sunday morning finals.
Most of the favourites could make the cut, and indeed they offered already an appetiser what we could expect tomorrow.
MEN'S 400 IM
The opening event, the men’s 400m IM is set to see a changing of the guard as the top favourite fell victim of the “opening day pressure”. Daiya Seto, bronze medallist in 2016 and world champion in 2019, couldn’t make the final. The Japanese wanted it too badly perhaps and after a fast and furious first 200m he faded and ended up 9th overall, missing the final by 0.32sec.
2017 world champion and Rio silver medallist Chase Kalisz (USA) can go for it now, though it’s going to be a hell of a race as the top six are within 0.64sec. The threat on the American is coming from Down Under as Brendon Smith (AUS) and Lewis Clareburt (NZL) finished atop in the heats.
WOMEN'S 100M FLY
Sarah Sjostrom is gaining back her speed: the Swedish superstar, female swimmer of the meet both in Budapest 2017 and Gwangju 2017, finished third in the heats in her pet 100m fly event (where she is the title-holder) and produced the fastest lead-off swim in the relay, some encouraging news after her bad accident in the winter.
MEN'S 100m BREAST
Adam Peaty showed some class in the men’s 100m breast, but the British king of the stroke needs to be aware: Dutchman Arno Kamminga managed to step on Peaty’s previously unchartered waters by clocking a sub-58sec swim once more this year. Though he is still far from the sub-57sec territory where only the British lion did some hunting two years ago. But don’t forget, it’s the Olympics. It’s about racing, not clocking great times. We’ll see once more that in the first final session, for sure.
WOMEN'S 400 IM
The women’s medley also produced some unexpected result, like Katinka Hosszu’s 7th place – the reigning Olympic, world and European champion barely ever swam on lane 1 in the final a major IM event. In the middle lanes Emma Weyant (USA), Amiee Wilmott (GBR), Yui Ohashi (JPN) and Mireia Belmonte (ESP) will stage a great fight, though here Weyant looked pretty strong, gaining 1.73sec on the rest already.
MEN'S 400 FREESTYLE
The third 400m final, the men’s free promises just as much thrills as here two underdogs came up with big swims. Germany’s Henning Muhlleitner and Austria’s Felix Auboeck had 3:43 blasts respectively, finishing 1-2 ahead of the Aussie world rank leaders Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin (who had ousted world title-holder Mack Horton at their national trials), who stylishly finished tied. Italy’s Gabriele Detti, also a medal contender here, posted 3:44 to clinch the third position but after a good sleep the field can blow up tomorrow morning.
WOMEN'S 4X100 FREE
The women’s 4x100m free semis met the expectations, no hiccups occured, the Aussies booked lane 4, ahead of the Netherlands and Canada, while the US quartet clocked only the 5th time – however, the fastest rockets are to appear in the final, they were not in the mix this evening.