By Sharon Robb
TOKYO, Japan, July 24, 2021–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Julio Horrego had his first Olympic moment Saturday.
Despite no fans in the 15,000-seat Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Horrego, 22, swimming the 100-meter breaststroke in Lane 5 in Heat 2, was fourth in his heat and 43rd overall in 1:02.45. He was 29.09 at the turn. Horrego has the 200-meter breaststroke remaining.
SOFLO teammate Alia Atkinson, 32, of Jamaica will make her fifth and final Olympic appearance when she competes in the heats of the 100-meter breaststroke Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. EST. The short course world champion and national record holder’s mantra for her final Summer Games has been “last swim, fast swim.”
Other local swimmers results:
Former St. Andrew’s Swimming and Florida State’s Izaak Bastian of the Bahamas was eighth in the 100-meter breaststroke heat and 40th overall in 1:01.87.
Peru’s Joaquin Vargas of Azura Florida Aquatics was 25th overall in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:52.94. Vargas competes Sunday in the 200 freestyle and Azura teammate Celina Marquez of El Salvador and Nova Southeastern competes in the 100 backstroke in the opening heats.
University of Miami’s Remedy Rule of the Philippines was 25th in the 100-meter butterfly in 59.68.
In the championship medal finals:
Men’s 400 individual medley: Americans Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland finished one-two. Kalisz, 27, of Bel Air, Md., a silver medalist in 2016, won gold in 4:09.42. Kalisz pulled away from the field in the breaststroke and was 2.5 seconds ahead going into the freestyle. Litherland came on in the freestyle to clinch the silver in 4:10.28.
“This means the world to me,” said Kalisz, obviously in pain after leaving it all in the pool. “This was the last thing I really wanted to accomplish in my swim career. It’s something that was a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I can’t believe it…I really can’t believe it.”
Men’s 400 freestyle: In a shocker, teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui, 18, of Tunisia, swimming in Lane 8 won his country’s first Olympic medal in the event and only fifth medal in any sport. With an insane kick at the finish, the youngest swimmer in the final won in 3:34.36, out-touching Aussie Jack McLoughlin in 3:43.52. The Tunisian had only qualified eighth by 8/100ths of a second (3:45.68). He is only the second swimmer from Tunisia to make a final. The son of former Tunisia national basketball player, Mohamed Hafnaoui was 12 when he joined Tunisia’s national swimming program. University of Florida junior Kieran Smith, making his Olympic debut, hung on to take the bronze in 3:43.94.
“I just can’t believe it, it is amazing, I am Olympic champion now,” Hafnaoui said. “I don’t know how I did it, I just put my head to the water. I just can’t believe it. “This is a dream that came true.”
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: Japan’s Yui Ohashi won her country’s first gold medal in 4:32.08. She had a two-body length lead during the breaststroke leg. American Emma Weyant, 19, of Sarasota Sharks, fourth going into the backstroke, came back to take silver in her Olympic debut in 4:32.76. U.S. teammate Hali Flickinger was third in 4:34.90. Reigning Olympic, world and European champion and world record holder Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, at 32 the oldest in the field, faded to fifth in 4:35.98. Weyant top seed in the 400 IM after prelims in 4:33.55.
“This is my first (major) international meet,” said Weyant after prelims. “It was really cool to be in the Olympics. I was really just trying to set myself up well for tomorrow morning and execute my race.”
After the final, Weyant said, “I think my mom and dad just fainted. This is just crazy to be a silver medalist and race the best in the world.”
Women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay: Australia broke the first world record in swimming blowing away the field in 3:29.69 with Bronte Campbell, Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon and Meg Harris. Canada was second in 3:32.78 and the U.S., with Simone Manuel on anchor leg, was third in 3:32.81.
In the biggest upset of the day, world champion and local hero Daiya Seto of Japan missed the final in the 400-meter individual medley, an event he was the heavy favorite. He had the fastest time (4:09.02) of the year. He was fifth in his heat and ninth overall missing the final by 0.32 seconds. After 300 meters he was a full body length ahead and then let it slip away on the freestyle leg. Seto still has the 200 IM left, which he is defending world champion.
Among the limited audience was First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Members of the U.S. swimming team cheered and chanted from the stands for Dr. Biden, who sat across the pool and waved as swimming kicked off.
Without fans, masked teams had ample room to spread out in socially distanced seats above the deck. The U.S. contingent waved tiny American flags and pounded red-white-and-blue Thunderstix, while the Germans spread their large-sized flag over two rows of seats.
NBC is hosting watch parties for parents of Olympians in Orlando.
400-meter individual medley: 1. Yui Ohashi, Japan 4:32.08, 2. Emma Weyant, US 4:32.76, 3. Hali Flickinger, US 4:34.90.
4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. Australia 3:29.69, 2. Canada 3:32.78, 3. United States 3:32.81.
400-meter individual medley: 1. Chase Kalisz, US 4:09.42, 2. Jay Litherland, US 4:10.28, 3. Brendon Smith, AUS 4:10.38.
400-meter freestyle: 1. Ahmed Hafnaoui, Tunisia 3:43.36, 2. Jack McLoughlin, AUS 3:43.52, 3. Kieran Smith, US 3:43.94.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com