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Team USA Contenders Highlight First Swimming Heats in Tokyo

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The swimming competitions for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics began Saturday morning with heats in six events: men’s 400m individual medley (IM), women’s 100m butterfly, men’s 400m freestyle, women’s 400m IM, men’s 100m breaststroke and women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.

Team USA dominated in the pool at the 2016 Rio Olympics, taking home 33 medals, 23 more than any other country. Though no medals will be awarded in the first session, there were American podium threats throughout the opening slate.

Chase Kalisz took home silver in the men’s 400m IM in Rio and is in the mix for his second career Olympic medal. Two American teenagers, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan, are among the contenders in the women’s 100m butterfly, while Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger could both collect medals in the women’s 400m IM. Michael Andrew also will be in the medal mix in the men’s 100m breaststroke.

Perhaps the biggest event to keep an eye on is the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, where the U.S. women won silver in Rio.

Here are recaps for the heats:

Men’s 400m individual medley

The first swimming event featured a shocker, as Japan’s Daiya Seto, the defending world champion, failed to make the final. That opens the door for Kalisz, who finished with the third-best time of the day at 4:09.65. He will be joined by fellow American Jay Litherland, who finished tied for fifth, in the final. 

Australia’s Brendon Smith and New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt set the top two times of the men’s 400 IM heats.

 

Women’s 100m butterfly

Huske and Curzan both advanced to the semifinals. Huske finished fourth overall with a time of 56.29, while Curzan came in 10th with a time of 57.49.

World record holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden had the third-best time of the heats. China’s Zhang Yufei and Australia’s Emma McKeon shared the top time of the heats at 55.82.

Men’s 400m freestyle

Two Americans earned spots in the finals during the qualifying heats. Kieran Smith finished sixth with a time of 3:45.25, just ahead of Jake Mitchell’s seventh-place time of 3:45.38.

Both swimmers came within one second of the third-place time, which belongs to Italy’s Gabriele Detti. Germany’s Henning Mühlleitner posted the top time at 3:43.67, while Austria’s Felix Auböck came in second at 3:43.91.

Women’s 400m individual medley

Weyant dominated the women’s 400 IM heats. Her 4:33.55 time is nearly two full seconds above the second-fastest swimmer, Great Britain’s Aimee Willmott.

Flickinger also advanced to the final, coming in fifth place at 4:35.98.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, who set the world record at the Rio Games, had the seventh-fastest mark at 4:36.01.

Men’s 100m breaststroke

Andrew made a statement in his first race at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, coming in with a time of 58.62. However, he still has ground to make up if he wants to emerge with a gold medal in the men’s 100m breaststroke.

World record holder Adam Peaty of Great Britain finished at 57.56 in his heat, while Dutch swimmer Arno Kamminga also beat Andrew with a time of 57.80.

American Andrew Wilson posted the seventh-fastest time of the day at 59.03 and also qualified for the men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals.

Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay

The U.S. women’s relay team, made up of Natalie Hinds, Olivia Smoliga, Catie DeLoof and Allison Schmitt, finished with the fifth-fastest time at 3:34.80.

Simone Manuel, who did not qualify for the 100m in Tokyo but was an option for Team USA in the 4x100m freestyle relay, did not compete in the heat. She still can compete in the final scheduled for Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Australia, Netherlands and Canada came in first, second and third, respectively.