McKeon, Schoenmaker fire warning shots with Olympic swim records
A new champion will be crowned in the 200m breaststroke with 2016 winner Rie Kaneto not competing, and it could well be SA's Tatjana Schoenmaker.
TOKYO - Australia's Emma McKeon fired a warning shot on Wednesday with a new Olympic record in the women's 100m freestyle heats, as storming South African Tatjana Schoenmaker clocked the second fastest 200m breaststroke time ever.
The door to the sprint gold is wide open, with American defending champion Simone Manuel failing to qualify at the US trials.
Manuel had dominated since Rio, winning back-to-back world titles, but missed crucial weeks in the lead-up to Tokyo after being diagnosed with overtraining syndrome in which an athlete fails to recover adequately from training and competition.
McKeon, who won four medals at Rio, but not in the 100m sprint, came to Japan with the fastest time this year ahead of veteran teammate Cate Campbell and bettered it with her 52.13 seconds.
"I'm pretty happy with that. An Olympic record is pretty cool," said McKeon.
"But I guess I had like yesterday off and this morning off, so I think it freshened me up a bit."
Campbell qualified fourth overall in 52.80, but noticeably eased up in winning her heat as she seeks redemption in what is likely her fourth and final Olympics.
Campbell was the hot favourite in Rio after breaking the long standing world record in the build-up, but only finished sixth.
Both McKeon and Campbell already own a Tokyo gold medal after spearheading the Australian 4x100 relay team to the title and a new world record on Sunday, the only one so far in the Tokyo pool.
Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey, who sensationally won silver behind Ariarne Titmus in the 200m final earlier in the day, was second fastest.
Swedish sprint star Sarah Sjostrom, the current world record holder who broke her elbow in February, was fifth as she looks to rebound after placing seventh in the 100m butterfly.
"It felt great," she said when asked how her arm was. "I'm really happy with the progress I've been making. Let's see if it continues."
A new champion will be crowned in the 200m breaststroke with 2016 winner Rie Kaneto not competing, and it could well be Schoenmaker.
She was under world record pace for much of her heat and only missed it by a fingertip, touching in 2:19.16, a new Olympic mark and just shy of the 2:19.11 set by Denmark's Rikke Moller Pedersen in 2013.
"I don't think I actually have the words to say how happy I am," she said. "I was just thinking if I only had these longer nails."
American Lilly King, who lost her 100m fly title to young team-mate Lydia Jacoby, was second fastest in 2:20.10.
It was all Australia in the women's 4x200m relay as they qualified for Thursday's final quickest in 7:44.61, three seconds clear of the US.
Titmus didn't swim after dethroning Katie Ledecky as the 200m champion in the morning finals, but she will almost certainly be part of their formidable finals team.
The Australians are the only team apart from the US to have won at the Olympic Games since the event was introduced in 1996 - once at Beijing in 2008.
The men's 200m backstroke has been dominated by the US throughout Olympic history, and Ryan Murphy carried on the tradition in Rio.
He won his heat Wednesday but has serious competition, notably from reigning two-time world champion Evgeny Rylov who has already won the 100m backstroke title.
The Russian was second best into the semis in 1:56.02 behind Britain's Luke Greenbank (1:54.63).
American Michael Andrew set the benchmark in the men's 200m individual medley, an event won at the last four Games by the now retired Michael Phelps. He clocked 1:56.40 ahead of Switzerland's Jeremy Desplanches.