Swimming returns to NBC’s primetime coverage of the Olympic Games with the first of eight straight days of finals Saturday. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET, carrying the action LIVE from the Tokyo Aquatics Center in Japan.
The first four sets of swimming medals are on the line in the men’s 400m individual medley, men’s 400m freestyle, women’s 400m IM and women’s 4x100m relay. Two sets of semifinals round out the schedule on Day 2 of the Tokyo Games.
Day 1 severed up the appetizer in the form of the first preliminary heats session, which delivered a bombshell result in the opening event. Japanese medley star Seto Daiya sputtered late in his 400m IM heat, finishing ninth overall and missing out on the final of the event in which he is the defending world champion and owner of the fastest times each of the past three years.
With Seto out of the picture, the men’s 400 IM is suddenly wide open for contenders like U.S. swimmers Jay Litherland and Chase Kalisz, a longtime training partner of Michael Phelps and the Rio 2016 silver medalist in the event.
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Speaking of the greatest ever, while Phelps won’t be competing in the Olympic pool for the first time since Atlanta 1996, his presence will certainly be felt. Not just metaphorically speaking, but in living color, as the 23-time gold medalist begins his assignment as a correspondent and analyst next to the usual crew of Rowdy Gaines and Dan Hicks in Tokyo.
Phelps might have the chance to break down a gold medal performance from rising U.S. star Emma Weyant in the women’s 400m IM. Weyant led the field in prelims by nearly two seconds and will be rewarded with lane No. 4 for the final.
German Henning Muhlleitner leads the field in the men’s 400m freestyle but will have to hold off a pair of powerful Aussies to take the gold medal. Americans Kieran Smith and Jake Mitchell will look to spoil things from the outside.
The last final of the session, the women’s freestyle relay, should also feature a heavy dose of Australian speed. The top-two ranked 100m freestyle swimmers in the world, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell are likely to team up on the Aussie foursome.
For the United States, the event offers a tinge of mystery. Simone Manuel would have been a lock to lead the Americans in this event before the summer, but after failing to qualify for the individual 100m freestyle at U.S. Trials, will there be a place for the four-time Olympic medalist on the team?
In addition to the NBC broadcast, complete coverage can also be found streaming on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app