Swim Poll of the Week: Who Wins The Men’s 4×200 Free Relay in Tokyo?

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This is the Swim Poll of the Week for Wednesday June 30, 2021, sponsored by Strechcordz Swim Training Products. In our last poll, we wanted to know: Who will win the men’s 4×200 free relay in Tokyo?

Outside of the boycotted 1980 Olympics, the American men have won a medal in every single swimming relay ever contested at the Olympics. Every single one. The vast majority of those teams have been gold medalists, but third place has been the basement. The longest-running Olympic relay is the men’s 800 freestyle relay, and the Americans have 24 medals in 24 appearances in that relay.

The streak is in significant jeopardy. The American prospects in the 200 free have been questionable for several years since Michael Phelps retired, and after the Americans settled for silver at the 2017 Worlds, they fell to bronze in 2019—getting onto the podium by just 0.03 over Italy and 0.06 over Great Britain.

But surely, some swimmers would emerge prior to the Olympic year to help lead the Americans back to respectability, maybe not an absolute gold-medal favorite but at least a strong squad. But instead, as swimmers around the world kept posting rocket-quick times, no Americans stood out in the leadup to Trials. Kieran Smith was the only man to have broken 1:47 in 2021 prior to coming to Omaha.

Prior to Tuesday evening’s 200 free final, the Americans’ composite 800 free relay based on in-season best times was almost three seconds behind in the composite time based on the 2021 season-best times, but the U.S. 200 freestyle situation finally took a step forward Tuesday evening as Smith won the event in 1:45.29—almost a second quicker than his lifetime best prior to the meet—while Townley Haas swam his fastest 200 free in three years in finishing second, and Drew Kibler dropped more than a second from his pre-meet best time to finish third in 1:45.92.

Andrew Seliskar also qualified to the team with his fourth-place time of 1:46.34, while Zach Apple (1:46.45) and Patrick Callan (1:46.49) will almost certainly be selected for Tokyo as relay alternates.

Now, compare that to what Great Britain, Russia and Australia have in this event: at least four men who have swum under 1:46 in 2021. Duncan Scott and Tom Dean have each been in the 1:44-mid range, and they are the top two swimmers in the world this year. Russia has Martin Malyutin under 1:45. Australia doesn’t have a standout at this point, but Kyle Chalmers certainly has 1:44 potential.

Take the composite of the four countries’ best times compared, and Great Britain is first, followed by Russia and then Australia. The Americans? Considerably behind.

  • Great Britain: Duncan Scott 1:44.47 + Tom Dean 1:44.58 + Matt Richards 1:45.77 + James Guy 1:45.95 = 7:00.77
  • Russia: Martin Malyutin 1:44.79 + Ivan Girev 1:45.49 + AleksandrDovgalyuk 1:45.56 + Aleksandr Shchegolev 1:45.82 = 7:01.66
  • Australia: Alexander Graham 1:45.22 + Kyle Chalmers 1:45.48 + Elijah Winnington 1:45.55 + Thomas Neill 1:45.70 = 7:01.95
  • United States: Kieran Smith 1:45.29 + Townley Haas 1:45.66 + Drew Kibler 1:45.92 + Andrew Seliskar 1:46.34 = 7:03.21

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Who will win the men’s 4×200 free relay in Tokyo?

Australia – 33%

United States – 29%

Great Britain – 26%

Russia – 11%

Someone Else – 1%


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