Women’s 4×100 Free Relay Analysis


Women’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay

  • World Record: 3:29.69, Australia – 2021 Olympic Games
  • Championship Record: 3:30.21, Australia – 2019 World Championships
  • 2021 Olympic Champion: Australia, 3:29.69
  • 2019 World Champion: Australia, 3:30.21
  1. Australia, 3:30.95
  2. Canada, 3:32.15
  3. United States, 3:32.58
  4. China, 3:35.25
  5. Great Britain, 3:35.43
  6. Brazil, 3:38.10
  7. Netherlands, 3:38.18
  8. Hungary, 3:38.20

The Aussie women proved that they could still dominate in the absence of Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell, winning the women’s 4×100 free relay by over a second. However, Canada and the United States had many of their swimmers step up big time to make this race much closer than we thought it would be.

Leadoff Splits, Ranked:

Country swimmer Time
Australia Mollie O’Callaghan 52.70
United States Torri Huske 52.96
netherlands Marrit Steenbergen 53.41
Canada Kayla Sanchez 53.45
Great Britain Anna Hopkin 53.70
Brazil Ana Carolina Viera 54.78
China Zhang Yufei 54.81
Hungary Nikolett Padar 55.16

As the fastest woman in the world this year, most expected Mollie O’Callaghan to have a body-length lead over the rest of the field on her leadoff. She clocked a time of 52.70 that was the fastest leadoff in the field, but was off her best time of 52.49. This could possibly be attributed to the fact that she focused on her front half this time around rather than her stronger back half, splitting 25.67/27.03. When she set her PB, she was 25.92/26.57, being nearly a half a second faster on her second 50 than she was today.

Coming just 0.26 seconds behind O’Callaghan was American Torri Huske, who set a new best time of 52.96. With that time, she becomes the third-fastest US woman of all time in the 100 free behind Simone Manuel (52.04) and Mallory Comerford (52.59), and the fourth US woman under 53 seconds. Huske’s performances slightly assuages ​​the fears of many Americans, who worried about the US women not having any decent sprinters following the absence of Manuel. If Huske continues to improve, she could be the future of American women’s sprinting.

Zhang Yufei led off China’s relay in 54.81, significantly slower than her best time of 52.90. After being well off her fastest in the 100 fly, we could be seeing a very “off” meet for Zhang and many other Chinese swimmers (such as Li Bingjie, who missed the finals of the 400 free after winning Olympic bronze last year). Her underperformance is once again another sign that the training of Chinese swimmers was heavily disrupted by recent COVID-19 restrictions.

Rolling Splits, Ranked:

Country swimmer Time
Canada Penny Oleksiak 52.51
Australia Madi Wilson 52.60
Australia Shayna Jack 52.65
Great Britain Freya Anderson 52.70
USA Claire Curzan 52.71
China Yang Junxuan 52.79
Canada Taylor Ruck 52.92
Australia Meg Harris 53.00
China Cheng Yujie 53.18
Canada Maggie MacNeil 53.27
USA Erika Brown 53.30
USA kate douglas 53.61
Brazil Stephanie Balduccini 53.97
Great Britain Lucy Hope 54.00
Hungary Dora Molnar 54.01
Brazil Giovanna Diamante 54.09
Hungary Fanni Gyruinovics 54.15
China Zhu Menghui 54.47
netherlands Tessa Giele 54.49
netherlands Valerie van Roon 54.81
Hungary Petra Senanszky 54.88
Great Britain Abbie Wood 55.03
Brazil Giovana Medeiros 55.26
netherlands Kim Busch 55.47

The Aussies had two out of the three fastest rolling splits with Madi Wilson and Shayna Jack being right on their best, but it was Canada’s Penny Oleksiak who went the fastest time. Her 52.51 anchor leg was fast enough to propel her country into the silver medal position behind the Aussies, and bodes well for her individual 100 free.

Aside from the top three, there were many other swimmers who stepped up and went sub-53. One of them was Taylor Ruck, who clocked her fastest split in many years. Her 52.92 was not on the level of her 51.72 from 2018, but it was much faster than the 54.16 she clocked at the Olympics last year. That being said, Ruck spend the past season recovering from an eating disorder that negatively affected her performances in recent years. Her improvements this year are a step forth in her journey of redemption.

Claire Curzan‘s 52.71 anchor leg puts her in the “future of US women’s sprinting” conversation alongside Huske, while Yang Junxuan‘s 52.79 was a minor sign of hope in China’s otherwise underwhelming performance at worlds so far. Great Britain’s Freya Anderson anchored in 52.70, the fourth-fastest out of all the rolling splits, which should be worth nothing as well.

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