With 37 different events and 111 total medals to be awarded, there are going to be plenty of great swim races at the newly built Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Included in Saturday’s action is the men’s 400M individual medley final, the men’s 400M freestyle final and the women’s 4 x 100M freestyle relay final.
In the 400M men’s medley, it’s a race many swim fans are calling a coin flip between veteran Chase Kalisz (USA) and new sensation Brendon Smith (AUS).
Coming into the Olympics, American Chase Kalisz was expected to compete for the gold medal in this event. With reigning Olympic champion Kosuke Hagino choosing to sit out this race and reigning world champion Daiya Seto failing to qualify for the finals, now is the time for Kalisz to seize his gold medal.
A couple of months ago, you could have found some really great odds on Brendon Smith of Australia to win this event. Smith wasn’t on anyone’s radar until he won the Australian qualifying event in June and now he is right there with Kalisz as the betting favorite to win the gold.
News & Notes
Japan’s Daiya Seto was the consensus favorite to win the gold medal for this event. Seto was the defending world champion and would be swimming in his home country. However, in a shocking turn of events, Seto finished ninth during the qualifying heats with only the top eight swimmers advancing to the final.
With Seto out, American Chase Kalisz becomes the betting favorite. Kalisz was the silver medalist five years ago in the 2016 Olympics, and with his rival Seto no longer a threat, Kalisz, who had the third-fastest qualifying time in the prelims, is now in position to win gold.
At the Australian Olympic qualifying event last June, Brendon Smith wasn’t on anyone’s radar to win a gold medal in this event. However, Smith shaved almost five seconds off his personal-best time to qualify for the Olympics and clearly his form has continued while in Tokyo. Smith posted the fastest qualifying time on his way to the finals.
Betting Pick: Brendon Smith (AUS) +250
Two months ago you would not have found Brendon Smith on my list of swimmers to bet during this race. He caught a lot of attention after his Aussie qualifying race and then backed it up by swimming the fastest qualifying time in Tokyo. My prediction is the Aussie finishes his rags-to-riches journey and captures gold in this one.
There is no surprise that Winnington is the favorite for this race. Pre-Olympics, many had the Australian ranked first. Fellow Australian Mack Horton has been a dominant force in this event for many years, but when Winnington beat Horton at the Australian Olympic qualifying event, it signaled a changing of the guard.
It will be interesting to watch Germany’s Henning Mühlleitner. Muhlleitner didn’t receive a lot of pre-Olympic hype, but after posting the fastest qualifying time to get to the finals, he is now one of the betting favorites.
News & Notes
This event has been dominated by Sun Yang and Mack Horton for the last 10 years. Yang, exposed in a doping scandal, is suspended and unable to compete. Mack finished a surprising third place at the Aussie qualifying event and didn’t make the Australian team.
Elijah Winnington is the man who won the Australian qualifying race and is the only swimmer who cracked the 3:43 barrier this year before heading to Tokyo. His sub 3:43 qualifying time is the reason he arrived in Tokyo as the race favorite.
Winnington’s teammate Jack McLoughlin also posted a great time at the Aussie qualifying event and finished just ahead of Horton to secure the second spot on the Australian team. McLoughlin is listed at +600 for this race and might have some good value at that number.
Betting Pick: Gabrielle Detti (ITA) +650
Gabrielle Detti has a lot of hardware already at home. The bronze medalist from the 2016 Olympics, 2017 world championships and 2019 world championships was one of three swimmers to crack the 3:45 barrier during the prelim races. Although I think Detti is a bit of a dark horse for this race, a chance to grab the +650 price for him is very enticing.
Picking a winner for this one doesn’t appear to be that hard. The Australian women dominate this event and the oddsmakers believe that trend will continue in Tokyo.
Where it does get interesting is who has the best shot to upset the Aussies? The Americans, the Dutch, the Canadians and the Chinese follow the Australians on the oddsboard, with the British team a step behind them.
News & Notes
A relay final this early in the Olympics is considered unusual, as some teams with depth and competition may still be trying to figure out who is in top form and who isn’t. However, what can’t be debated is who the favorite is to win this race.
Team Australia are the two-time defending Olympic gold medalists and the reigning world champions in this event. The three fastest 100M freestyle swimmers are all from Australia and at -1600 odds for this gold medal race, there is no doubt who is expected to win.
Penny Oleksiak is considered the fastest non-Australian and she will lead a Canadian team looking to improve on the bronze medal they won at the latest world championships.
Team USA made headlines before Tokyo when defending 100M freestyle champion Simone Manuel failed to qualify for the freestyle team. Team USA qualified with the fifth-fastest time in the prelims and will have to improve on that time to end up on the podium.
Betting Pick: Australia -1600
Picking the Australian women to win this event hardly needs much defending. Winning this race is what they do, and obviously at these odds they are expected to do it again. Where it gets interesting is selecting a possible upset team to dethrone them. I’m suggesting the final order of finish in this race will be Australia, followed by the Netherlands and then Canada.
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