- American Katie Ledecky headlines the women’s swimming competition in Tokyo
- Are there any competitors that can trip up her run at becoming the most decorated female Olympian ever?
- Read below for odds, analysis and picks for Women’s Olympic swimming
The pool will be the place to be (well, on television anyways) if you’re interested in witnessing history.
American Katie Ledecky is one of the key headliners in these Games, with a legitimate chance to tie former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s record of nine gold medals.
With five already in the bag from London and Rio, she’ll need to win gold in all her individual races, plus at least one relay, to take her spot among the Olympic all-timers.
The question now is: can she do it, and how should you be wagering? It all kicks off July 24 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, and events will run until August 1.
You can watch it live on NBC.
Check our quick breakdowns and best bets for each below, or jump to the section that suits you. All odds courtesy of FanDuel.
- Women’s 50m Freestyle Odds
- Women’s 100m Freestyle Odds
- Women’s 200m Freestyle Odds
- Women’s 400m Freestyle Odds
- Women’s 800m Freestyle Odds
- Women’s 1500m Freestyle Odds
- Women’s 200m Butterfly Odds
- Women’s 100m Backstroke Odds
- Women’s 200m Backstroke Odds
Women’s 50m Freestyle Odds
Analysis: One of the most exciting races in the pool — as that all-out burst can lead to a lot of volatility, and a chance for you to cash in on some nice odds. Australians Cate Campbell and Emma McKeon rank 1-2 at the top of the charts, on the strength of being the only swimmers to crack 24 seconds in this race in 2021.
But there’s a who’s-who in this field, which includes world record-holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, though she’s coming off a broken elbow, and there are questions about how healthy she may be. The past two Olympic champions are competing as well: Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands won at London 2012, while Denmark’s Pernille Blume is the defending champion from Rio 2016. She is coming off a back injury, however.
The pick: Sjostrom (+650)
Women’s 100m Freestyle Odds
Analysis: This field looks to be as open as ever, as American Simone Manuel, who has owned this event, did not qualify due at the US Trials, mainly due to an Overtraining Syndrome diagnosis, which slowed her in 2021. Aussies McKeon and Campbell are the top two betting favorites.
Campbell had the previous world record before it was topped by Sjostrom, who is sporting some intriguing +1300 odds. Canadian Penny Oleksiak, who took Rio by storm as a 16-year-old, tying with Manuel for gold in the 100m freestyle, is in a nice position to contend. She’s overcome some up-and-down moments since then, but did impress by winning at the Canadian Olympic Trials with a time of 52.89. That’s her best mark since winning Olympic gold at 52.70 seconds.
The pick: Oleksiak (+750)
Women’s 200m Freestyle Odds
Analysis: If there’s one swimmer that could put a dent in Ledecky’s sky-high aspirations, it’s Aussie Ariarne Titmus — who’s earned the nickname the Terminator. She posted a 1:53.09 time in this race in June, a mark only topped by Italian veteran Frederica Pellegrini. That bested Ledecky’s winning time in Rio as well, of 1:53.73.
Scheduling-wise, this is also an uphill battle for the American. Ledecky will be competing in the 400m freestyle final on the morning of July 26, then will have the 200m semifinals that night. She’ll need to compete in the 200m final the next morning — as well as the 1500m freestyle.
The pick: Titmus (-220)
Women’s 400m Freestyle Odds
Analysis: This would be anyone else’s signature race, and though Ledecky has shined in it, she’s not the favorite in Tokyo. She set the world record en route to a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and is the first woman to ever break the 4-minute threshold at the Olympics in this race. She’s done it 11 times since.
— DeGuzman Sports (@DeGuzmanSports) July 21, 2019
But Titmus has the best time this season in this event, posting a 3:56.90 mark in June. That’s more than two seconds better than any time Ledecky has posted this year. Titmus has also cracked that 4-minute mark five times herself.
This one is going to be a doozy.
The pick: Ledecky (+145)
Women’s 800m Freestyle Odds
Analysis: Now this is Ledecky total domination.
She is the 2-time defending Olympic champ and a 4-time World Champion. Usually, calling someone the world-record holder would be the feather in their cap, but that doesn’t even begin to explain her stranglehold on the 800m.
Reminder: Katie Ledecky won the 800m Freestyle at the RIO Olympics by over 11-seconds. pic.twitter.com/JcMbogi8XY
— Kyle Sockwell (@kylesockwell) April 8, 2020
She was won the 800m at every major international competition since the London 2012 Olympic Games, and owns the 24 fastest times in the 800, and 30 of 31 swims in this distance all-time.
If you’re looking for an upset, try out Italy’s Simona Quadarella, if you dare. She was neck-and-neck with Ledecky at the 2019 Worlds and even held a lead, but the American finished the final 50m in a flurry to win going away. Quadarella’s time of 8:14.99 stands as her best ever. Ledecky hasn’t gone sub 8:10 since August of 2018, but we’re reaching here.
The pick: Ledecky (-320)
Women’s 1500m Freestyle Odds
Analysis: All Ledecky, all the time. She dominated the field at the US Olympic Trials, and her time of 15:40.50 was the 14th-fastest time ever recorded by a woman. Granted, she’s also holder of the 10 fastest times in history, including a 15:20.48 world record.
Fun fact: her 23rd fastest performance would have won gold in every men’s 1500m until 1976. This will be the first time this event will ever be competed on the women’s side at an Olympic games, so there’s some added juice.
— Crown Vic (@VictoriaMahoney) June 17, 2021
But there are pitfalls here: we mentioned earlier that she’ll be competing in both the 200m and 1500m final in the same day (assuming she makes both), part of a brutal stretch of six races –three for medals — over the course of 48 hours. As well, only five men in history have medalled in both the 200m and 1500m in the same Olympics, none of them with the double-gold. I’m confident this race isn’t the one you have to worry about.
The pick: Ledecky (-550)
Women’s 200m Butterfly Odds
Analysis: Who will be able to hang with Zhang Yufei? The Chinese swimmer cracked the sub-2:06 mark at the Chinese Olympic trials, with the 2:05.44 mark the top time in the world this year, two seconds faster than her time at Rio 2016, when she finished in sixth.
Day 3 of the FINA Swimming World Cup in Singapore saw China’s 🇨🇳 Zhang Yufei swim to glory in the Women's 100m Butterfly with the time 57.94! Watch live at https://t.co/bEozhdW5qV #SWC19 #SWIMMING #FINA pic.twitter.com/VUAB5C3LB8
— FINA (@fina1908) August 17, 2019
American Hali Flickinger, who finished one spot behind Yufei in 2016, is the only other swimmer to break that mark this year, posting 2:05.85 at the US Olympic Trials. Someone who could crash this party is Hungarian Boglarka Kapas, who finished with a time of 2:06.50 at the 2021 European Championships, earning the gold medal. This will be the first time she will compete at this event in an Olympics.
The pick: Yufei (+110)
Women’s 100m Backstroke Odds
Analysis: It’s a showdown between the three fastest women in the history of this event — the only three that have gone sub-58 seconds. The current world record holder is Australian Kaylee McKeown, the only person to ever swim under 58 seconds multiple times, most recently at the Australian Olympic trials.
Winning races, breaking records 🔥
Kylie Masse won the 100m backstroke and broke her own Canadian record 🇨🇦
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) June 26, 2021
That is, until American Regan Smith. She posted a 57.57 as a relay leadoff at the 2019 World Swimming Championship, setting the world record at the time, and marking the first time in history a woman had swam south of 58 seconds. She doubled up at the 2021 US Olympic Trials, posting a 57.92 to win.
And then there’s Canadian Kylie Masse, who bested her 58.10 career mark (once a world record) with a 57.70 time at the 2021 Canadian Olympic Trials.
In a race this close among th heavyweights, I’ll take the one with longest odds.
The pick: Masse (+340)
Women’s 200m Backstroke Odds
Analysis: If you’re wondering why Kaylee McKeown is so far ahead of the field, it’s because Regan Smith, the world record holder in the event, shockingly failed to qualify out of the 2021 US Olympic Swimming Trials.
McKeown has continued to build off a second-place finish at the 2019 World Championships, putting down a 2:04:49 at Queensland, the third-fastest time in history.
In Smith’s absence, you may want to consider the American upstarts that pushed her out of the water for this race. Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon posted top-5 times in the world at the US Trials, and could push the Aussie for gold. Their odds are really too good to pass on.
The pick: White (+650)