Day 4…it’s that time again!

After a number of tight final races on Day 3, tonight’s competition promises to be no different. This is hardly a surprise when you have multiple World Record holders all competing on the same evening.

#SwimWords has currently predicted 92% of Gold medallists after three days of competition, but with a couple of mouth-watering head-to-head rivalries, forecasts are not getting any easier.

WOMEN’S 200 FREESTYLE

Who will win the Women’s 200 freestyle?

If you asked this question two days ago, the prompt answer would have been Katie Ledecky. However, after the semi-finals unfolded last night, the tall Sarah Sjostrom put a large doubt in the minds of many. The Swede went head-to-head with Ledecky and smoothly proceeded to show her strength to beat a scrappy looking Ledecky in 1.54.65. It was the manner of the way Sjostrom was able to do this and the confidence she is obviously feeling after making history in the pool for her country. There is no doubt that Ledecky was trying, but does she have another gear..?

Both are have swum World Records this meet. Both have raised their game in finals. Both are undoubtedly on great form. Strap yourselves in for this one ladies and gents!

Quietly going about her business is the World Record Recorder and an all-time great of the 200 freestyle event. Federica Pellegrini has won every major meet on the planet, and seems to be finding new found form in 2016. Known for her lightening finishing ability, the Italian has dramatically improved her 100 metre speed, which if she merges the two correctly will become a lethal combination. Pellegrini is odds on to take a medal, but with her experience, she will feel she can upset the party and stand on the very top of the podium.

SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Women’s 200 Freestyle Sjostrom Ledecky Pellegrini

 

MEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY

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SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men’s 200 Butterfly Phelps Le Clos Kenderesi

Chad Le Clos, the man who famously pipped Michael Phelps to Gold in London four years ago, is in mercurial form. He picked up a surprise Silver medal in the 200 freestyle from lane 1 last night. The South African showed his abundance of speed and superb underwater ability to pick up a freestyle medal that no one would have predicted at the beginning of the week.  Sixty minutes later Le Clos went in the 200 butterfly semi-finals and did not give too much away. After likely being fatigued from his earlier final he looked contained from the start, and let others go ahead, whilst doing his trademark looking around from side to side. Expect him to go out fast in the final.

The surprising stories from the semi-finals are the impressive continual emergence of youngster Tamas Kenderesi but also his less than impressive Hungarian colleague Laszlo Cseh. The World ranked No.1, Cseh, won the first of the semi-finals in what looked like a hard 1.55.18, and some way off his 1.52.91 winning time at the Europeans in May this year. Kenderesi, who undoubtedly holds Cseh has one of his greatest idols, could quite unexpectedly be the man to take a medal away from the veteran. The young Hungarian’s time of 1.53.96 was made even more impressive by his fast finishing speed to win the second semi-final (final split 29.04).

And then there is Michael Phelps. The great man suits up for his 5th consecutive Olympic 200m Butterfly final but what sort of form is he in? This event is where it all began for him, breaking the World Record at only 15 years of age, but he is arguably most vulnerable in this one at the age of 31. His semi-final swim of 1.54.12 looked uncomfortable particularly in the final stages, and he followed that with a number of shakes of the head, indicating his frustration at his own form. He will have to drop a second to win Gold, but with the recent mind games and theatrics of Le Clos in the call room, you can’t bet against him. You just don’t wind up Michael Phelps. There is no love lost between these two, so expect a release of emotion if the American was to capture his 20th Gold medal!

WOMEN’S 200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

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SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Women’s 200 Individual Medley Hosszu O’Connor Dirado

Although Siobhan-Marie O’Connor is on the form of her life, and is seeded fastest for the final, she won’t get close enough to Katinka Hosszu to win the Gold. The ‘Iron Lady’ was very contained in her semi-final swim, having just won a Gold in the 100 metre backstroke event 30 minutes before. Expect another World Record to go here, and the 2.06 barrier to be broken.

Whilst O’Connor is set for the silver medal and looked very good when breaking her British Record (2.07.57), she is likely to further lower this tonight. A high 2.06 clocking is not out of the question, and that would be simply dazzling from the Brit.

Predicted to take the Bronze medal is the American Maya Dirado. Buoyed by her excellent Silver in the double distance, the backstroke specialist should add to her collection. Her closest competitor is the infamous defending Olympic Champion Ye Shiwen, who has had a miraculous recovery after swimming 17 seconds off her best time in the 400IM on the first day…. Watch out for her on the freestyle leg.

MEN’S 4×200 FREESTYLE RELAY

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Just like the 4×100 freestyle relay expect the USA to make a number of personnel changes for the final including the great Michael Phelps. Olympic Bronze medallist Conor Dwyer will definitely come in, and possibly Townley Haas. The interesting point with that though is Jack Conger is likely to give way instead of Ryan Lochte even though he split slightly faster in the heats earlier today. It is fair enough for Team USA to back one of the all-time greats of the sport, but still tough for Conger.

The USA are too strong for the rest of the field, so expect a dominant display right from the start. The Australians have both McEvoy and McKeon to add to their line-up, likely joining 400 Olympic Champion Mack Horton and Fraser-Holmes to make up the quad. It will be close between the Aussies and the Great Britain team.

The British quartet, top seeds from the heats, will add World Champion James Guy to their ranks for the final. The most exciting thing for the Brits though is the emergence of Scottish sensation Duncan Scott, who arguably put on the best display of freestyle swimming ever by a Britain in one session. Scott broke an 8-year-old British Record in the heats of the 100 freestyle with a lightening time of 48.01, but then followed this up with the fastest relay split of any nation (by some margin) to anchor #TeamGB home (1.45.07). Combine Scott’s speed with Guy’s, and Wallace and Milne repeat their heat performance, and GBR could see their men celebrating Silver tonight.

For more background and insight on this relay have a read of ‘How do the men shape up for the relays in Rio?

SwimWords podium prediction:

  GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay USA AUS GBR

 

A feast of finals to look forward to tonight and some great semi-finals to get behind too. Expect fireworks. Expect shocks. Expect mixed emotions of euphoria and relief from the best athletes in swimming. Not a bad one to stay up for…

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