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What we learned: Swimming wrap-up from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 28: Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia reacts after winning the gold medal in the Women’s 200m Freestyle Final on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

From Ariarne Titmus’ freestyle heroics to Caeleb Dressel’s world record, take a look at swimming’s most memorable moments at Tokyo 2020, a medal recap, and what we have to look forward to at Paris 2024. 

Swimming delivered shock victories, world records, amazing comebacks, and the unearthing of new stars in equal measure at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The two stars of the show were Ariarne Titmus and Caeleb Dressel, who both left Japan with several gold medals despite the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

A special mention must also go to Emma McKeon, whose seven-medal haul is the joint record for a female Olympian at a single Games.

A huge hand too for Katie Ledecky, who showed her champion spirit to win two more individual gold medals. Her career tally of six individual titles means she is now the most decorated female swimmer of all time at the Olympics.

Below, we take a look back at the most memorable moments, a recap of the medal winners, and who to look out for at the Paris 2024 Olympics in just three years!

Top 5 swimming moments at Tokyo 2020

Here are some of the highlights from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which took place in 2021.

1 – Ariarne Titmus’ 400m freestyle victory

It was one of the most hyped-up clashes of the whole Olympic Games, but Ariarne Titmus’ 400m freestyle duel with Katie Ledecky met all expectations.

The American raced into an early lead before ‘The Terminator’ overtook her at the 150m mark, and the Australian stayed a stroke ahead until the wall to take gold.

Titmus had silenced all of her doubters, who questioned whether she would be able to repeat her 2019 World Championships win over Ledecky.

While the Australian’s reaction immediately afterwards was happy but subdued due to exhaustion, her coach Dean Boxall made up for both of them with his wild celebration that quickly went viral.

It was one of Australia’s greatest ever Olympic Games performances in the swimming pool, with nine gold medals and 21 overall. Titmus, alongside seven-medal winner Emma McKeon and backstroke double champion Kaylee McKeown, formed the backbone of that team.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia reacts after winning the gold medal in the Women's 400m Freestyle Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 26: Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia reacts after winning the gold medal in the Women’s 400m Freestyle Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

2 – Katie Ledecky winning first-ever women’s 1500m freestyle gold

Katie Ledecky may have lost her 200m and 400m freestyle Olympic titles to Titmus, but the American left Japan as the reigning distance swimming queen

Just over an hour after finishing fifth in the 200m, she won the first-ever women’s 1500m Olympic gold medal.

As the reigning world champion and world record holder, she was the heavy pre-race favourite.

Even so, the Stanford-based swimmer’s relief was palpable at the end, crying tears of joy as she landed her sixth Olympic gold medal for Team USA.

Ledecky took that momentum into the 800m final, where she beat Titmus to add a seventh gold. That also made Ledecky the most decorated female Olympic swimmer of all time.

3 – Dressel 100m fly world record

Caeleb Dressel made no secret of the pressure he felt in the run-up to Tokyo 2020.

An expectant American public were looking to the Florida man to be their new Michael Phelps, and bring back a multitude of gold medals.

But when Dressel scorched through the water to land the 100m butterfly with a new world record of 49.45, comparisons were forgotten. American swimming had a new champion in his own right.

«It was faster than I thought it was going to be,» Dressel said after. «I’m sure it was really fun to watch for everybody, it was certainly fun to take part in.»

Dressel’s Olympic schedule was intense and he eventually finished the event with five Olympic gold medals, three of those coming in individual events.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 29: Caeleb Dressel of Team United States reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m Freestyle Final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 29: Caeleb Dressel of Team United States reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men’s 100m Freestyle Final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

4 – Ahmed Hafnaoui shock 400m gold

Ahmed Hafnaoui’s goal for Tokyo 2020 was to gain experience, with a view to winning a medal at the Paris 2024 Games.

No one was more surprised than the teenager himself, therefore, when he won the men’s 400m freestyle final in what was the shock of the Games in the pool.

From out in lane eight, the Tunisian touched home in 3:43.36 to win his nation’s first gold medal in the event, and its fifth Olympic gold ever.

“I just put my head in the water and that’s it. I just can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true,” he said after the race.

The scenes of his friends and family following the action back home in Africa were almost as exciting.

5 – Great Britain’s mixed medley relay win

The 4x100m mixed medley relay made its Olympic debut in style.

With two men and two women in each team, the event is almost as much about tactics as it is about speed in the pool.

On the night it was Great Britain who implemented the perfect strategy to win the event’s first-ever gold medal with a new world record.

Backstroker Kathleen Dawson did as best she could to keep pace with the men on her leg, before handing over to breaststroke king Adam Peaty and butterfly specialist James Guy, who both swum excellent splits to give Anna Hopkin a head start on the freestyle leg, which she never relinquished.

The race was a true display of teamwork and a superbly exciting addition to the Olympic programme.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 31: (L-R) Gold medalists Adam Peaty, James Guy, Anna Hopkin and Kathleen Dawson of Team Great Britain poses during the medal ceremony for the Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 31: (L-R) Gold medalists Adam Peaty, James Guy, Anna Hopkin and Kathleen Dawson of Team Great Britain poses during the medal ceremony for the Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

One last look at swimmers making history

Swimming is famed for its intense rivalries between competitors.

Tokyo 2020 was no different, but one feature that stood out was the level of respect and sportsmanship between the athletes, who have worked so hard to either win or come up short in winning their medal.

A perfect example of this came in the women’s 200m breaststroke, where South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker swum an unbelievable world record.

She was overcome with emotion in the pool afterwards, but the resounding image was that of her chief rival Lilly King swimming over to her lane to share in her celebrations, alongside Annie Lazor of Team USA and Kaylene Corbett of South Africa.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 30: Tatjana Schoenmaker of Team South Africa (C) is congratulated by Lilly King of Team United States (1L),  Annie Lazor of Team United States (2L) and Kaylene Corbett of Team South Africa (R) after winning the gold medal and breaking the world record after competing in the Women's 200m Breaststroke Final on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 30: Tatjana Schoenmaker of Team South Africa (C) is congratulated by Lilly King of Team United States (1L), Annie Lazor of Team United States (2L) and Kaylene Corbett of Team South Africa (R) after winning the gold medal and breaking the world record after competing in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke Final on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

Hello Paris 2024

The average age of the swimmers in Tokyo was one of its youngest ever, meaning that many of the rivalries we enjoyed so much in Japan will likely be renewed at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Ariarne Titmus is somehow still only 20-years-old and will be a strong favourite to defend her Olympic titles in Paris.

Katie Ledecky will be 27 at the next Games and will be confident of defending her distance freestyle titles, while it will be fascinating to see how the thrilling backstroke rivalry between world record holders Kaylee McKeown and Regan King progresses.

Another to keep an eye on is Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, who will be looking to upgrade her 100m and 200m freestyle silver medals to golds.

On the men’s side, swim legend Adam Peaty has already stated his intention to try and defend his 100m breaststroke title for a third time, after a bit of a break from the sport, while Caeleb Dressel will likely be the headline act one again.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 30: Silver medalist Siobhan Bernadette Haughey of Team Hong Kong poses during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Freestyle Final on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 30: Silver medalist Siobhan Bernadette Haughey of Team Hong Kong poses during the medal ceremony for the Women’s 100m Freestyle Final on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

When and where to watch swimming replays on Olympics.com

The answer is here: Olympics.com/tokyo2020-replays

Highlights clips and full sessions from the pool are being made available shortly after the Tokyo Games.

When do the top swimmers compete next?

The FINA World Cup kicks off 1 October in Berlin, before moving on to Budapest, Doha, and Kazan. It is yet to be confirmed which athletes are competing.

Full medals list in swimming at Tokyo 2020 in 2021

Women’s events

50m freestyle

Gold: Emma Mckeon (AUS)

Silver: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE)

Bronze: Pernille Blume (DEN)

100m freestyle

Gold: Emma Mckeon (AUS)

Silver: Siobhan Haughey (HK)

Bronze: Cate Campbell (AUS)

200m freestyle

Gold: Ariarne Titmus (AUS)

Silver: Siobhan Haughey (HK)

Bronze: Penny Oleksiak (CAN)

400m freestyle

Gold: Ariarne Titmus (AUS)

Silver: Katie Ledecky (USA)

Bronze: Li Bingjie (CHN)

800m freestyle

Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA)

Silver: Ariarne Titmus (AUS)

Bronze: Simona Quadarella (ITA)

1500m freestyle

Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA)

Silver: Erica Sullivan (USA)

Bronze: Sarah Kohler (GER)

100m backstroke

Gold: Kaylee McKeown (AUS)

Silver: Kylie Masse (CAN)

Bronze: Regan Smith (USA)

200m backstroke

Gold: Kaylee McKeown (AUS)

Silver: Kylie Masse (CAN)

Bronze: Emily Seebohm (AUS)

100m breaststroke

Gold: Lydia Jacoby (USA)

Silver: Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA)

Bronze: Lilly King (USA)

200m breaststroke

Gold: Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA)

Silver: Lilly King (USA)

Bronze: Annie Lazor (USA)

100m butterfly

Gold: Maggie MacNeil (CAN)

Silver: Zhang Yufei (CHN)

Bronze: Emma Mckeon (AUS)

200m butterfly

Gold: Zhang Yufei (CHN)

Silver: Regan Smith (USA)

Bronze: Hali Flickinger (USA)

200m individual medley

Gold: Yui Ohashi (JPN)

Silver: Alex Walsh (USA)

Bronze: Kate Douglass (USA)

400m individual medley

Gold: Yui Ohashi (JPN)

Silver: Emma Weyant (USA)

Bronze: Hali Flickinger (USA)

4x100m freestyle relay

Gold: Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell (AUS)
Silver: Kayla Sanchez, Maggie MacNeil, Rebecca Smith, Penny Oleksiak (CAN)
Bronze: Erika Brown, Abbey Weitzeil, Natalie Hinds, Simone Manuel (USA)

4x200m freestyle relay

Gold: Yang Junzuan, Tang Muhan, Zhang Yufei, Li Bingjie (CHN)
Silver: Allison Schmitt, Paige Madden, Katie McLaughlin, Katie Ledecky (USA)
Bronze: Ariarne Titmus, Emma McKeon, Madison Wilson, Leah Neale (AUS)

4x100m medley relay

Gold: Kaylee McKeown, Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell (AUS)
Silver: Regan Smith, Lydia Jacoby, Torri Huske, Abbey Weitzeil (USA)
Bronze: Kylie Masse, Sydney Pickrem, Maggie MacNeil, Penny Oleksiak (CAN)

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 25: (L-R) Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma Mckeon and Cate Campbell of Team Australia pose with the gold medal for the Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 25: (L-R) Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma Mckeon and Cate Campbell of Team Australia pose with the gold medal for the Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

Men’s events

50m freestyle

Gold: Caeleb Dressel (USA)

Silver: Florent Manaudou (FRA)

Bronze: Bruno Fratus (BRA)

100m freestyle

Gold: Caeleb Dressel (USA)

Silver: Kyle Chalmers (AUS)

Bronze: Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC)

200m freestyle

Gold: Thomas Dean (GB)

Silver: Duncan Scott (GB)

Bronze: Fernando Scheffer (BRA)

400m freestyle

Gold: Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN)

Silver: Jack McLoughlin (AUS)

Bronze: Kieran Smith (USA)

800m freestyle

Gold: Robert Finke (USA)

Silver: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA)

Bronze: Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR)

1500m freestyle

Gold: Robert Finke (USA)

Silver: Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR)

Bronze: Florian Wellbrock (GER)

100m backstroke

Gold: Evgeny Rylov (ROC)

Silver: Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC)

Bronze: Ryan Murphy (USA)

200m backstroke

Gold: Evgeny Rylov (ROC)

Silver: Ryan Murphy (USA)

Bronze: Luke Greenbank (GB)

100m breaststroke

Gold: Adam Peaty (GB)

Silver: Arno Kamminga (NED)

Bronze: Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA)

200m breaststroke

Gold: Zac Stubblety-Cook (AUS)

Silver: Arno Kamminga (NED)

Bronze: Matti Mattsson (FIN)

100m butterfly

Gold: Caeleb Dressel (USA)

Silver: Kristof Milak (HUN)

Bronze: Noe Ponti (SUI)

200m butterfly

Gold: Kristof Milak (HUN)

Silver: Tomoru Honda (JPN)

Bronze: Federico Burdisso (ITA)

200m individual medley

Gold: Wang Shun (CHN)

Silver: Duncan Scott (GB)

Bronze: Jeremy Desplanches (SUI)

400m individual medley

Gold: Chase Kalisz (USA)

Silver: Jay Litherland (USA)

Bronze: Brendon Smith (AUS)

4x100m freestyle relay

Gold: Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Bowe Becker, Zach Apple (USA)
Silver: Alessandro Miressi, Thomas Ceccon, Lorenzo Zazzeri, Manuel Frigo (ITA)
Bronze: Matthew Temple, Zac Incerti, Alexander Graham, Kyle Chalmers (AUS)

4x200m freestyle relay

Gold: Thomas Dean, James Guy, Matthew Richards, Duncan Scott (GB)
Silver: Martin Malyutin, Ivan Girev, Evgeny Rylov, Mikhail Dovgalyuk (ROC)
Bronze: Alexander Graham, Kyle Chalmers, Zac Incerti, Thomas Neill (AUS)

4x100m medley relay

Gold: Ryan Murphy, Michael Andrew, Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple (USA)
Silver: Luke Greenbank, Adam Peaty, James Guy, Duncan Scott (GB)
Bronze: Thomas Ceccon, Nicolo Martinenghi, Federico Burdisso, Alessandro Miressi (ITA)

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 01: (L-R) Gold medalists Ryan Murphy, Michael Andrew, Caeleb Dressel and Zach Apple of Team United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 01: (L-R) Gold medalists Ryan Murphy, Michael Andrew, Caeleb Dressel and Zach Apple of Team United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

Mixed events

4x100m medley relay

Gold: Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy, Anna Hopkin (GB)
Silver: Xu Jiayu, Yan Zibei, Zhang Yufei, Yang Junzuan (CHN)
Bronze: Kaylee McKeown, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Matthew Temple, Emma McKeon (AUS)

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Fuente de la noticia

Fuente imagen: olympics.com

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