Swimmers in dress rehearsal for morning finals

LOS ANGELES • Katie Ledecky and other American swimmers will get a taste of Tokyo at a Mission Viejo meet this weekend that will provide a dress rehearsal for the Olympics, with morning finals and evening preliminaries.

Not since the 2008 Beijing Games have swimmers had to deal with reverse scheduling to allow broadcasters to televise races live in prime time in the United States.

At those Olympics, it was Michael Phelps and his quest for eight gold medals in the spotlight while in Tokyo, it will be Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel getting the prime-time treatment.

Having won five golds from the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics, Ledecky could double her career haul in Tokyo, where she will swim the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle as well as relays.

Ledecky, 24, is bidding for a historic double by winning the 1,500m, a new event, and 200m on the same day. Adding to the difficulty, she will have to drag herself out of bed and quickly get in gear to get to the top of the podium.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to show my range," she said.

"It's something I've been thinking about this past year, just making sure I am doing everything I can to prepare myself both mentally and physically for those different things."

This weekend's meet in Mission Viejo, California will represent the only chance swimmers have to get a feel for morning finals and fine-tune their routines.

"This week is a great opportunity for me to practise things and also hopefully come away with some takeaways of what I can do better next time we have the flip schedule, which will be in Tokyo," said Ledecky, the world record holder in 400m, 800m and 1,500m.

Adjusting to change will be a constant theme for Olympic hopefuls.

Kyodo news reported yesterday that diving and artistic swimming qualifiers will go ahead in Japan, days after both looked to have been axed by the sport's world governing body Fina.

Fina had said last week it was reviewing the status of both events, as well as a marathon swimming qualifier, without specifying a reason, before marking the events as "cancelled" on its website.

Kyodo, citing multiple unnamed sources, said that the diving event, which was to begin on April 18, will be held next month.

The artistic swimming qualifiers, set for May 1-4, would also go ahead. It did not mention whether it would be rescheduled.

Portugal has been floated as a possible location for the marathon swim qualifier that was to take place in Fukuoka late next month.

Kyodo said the relevant parties had agreed in talks on Thursday not to cancel the events, which have been changed to "TBC" (to be confirmed) on the Fina calendar.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2021, with the headline 'Swimmers in dress rehearsal for morning finals'. Subscribe