Best Swimming Bets for the Tokyo Olympics

| July 21, 2021 6:34 am PDT

The swimming competitions continue to be one of the best parts of the Olympics. When the games begin in the water at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, that certainly won’t change.

There are some massive swimming stars eyeing gold medals in Tokyo, while homegrown talent like Daiya Seto hopes to make his loyal fans proud.

As exciting as the Olympics are, it gets even more fun when betting on the big events. Betting on the main swimming events is where it’s at, but you may be unsure which way to lean.

Some of the top favorites are priced at -1000 or even -10000 on some Olympics betting sites, and that simply isn’t the type of bet most bettors will want to target.

To get you a bit more value – and hopefully some converted bets – I’m going through the best Olympic swimming betting picks for Tokyo.

Chase Kalisz to Win Men’s 400m Individual Medley (+400)

There is no getting around the fact that Japan’s own Daiya Seto is the man to beat in the 400m Individual Medley at the Tokyo Olympics.

This is a homegrown talent, one of the best swimmers on the circuit, and he’s been highly productive. Seto did win gold in this event at the world short-course championships in 2012, 2014, and 2016, too.

The problem is Kalisz may be finally ready to take him down.

Kalisz finished half a second behind Seto for silver at the 2013 World Aquatic Championships, and he took silver again at the 2016 Summer Olympics. He’s had better times than Seto this year, and he holds the American record in this category.

Seto probably feels like the safer play, but Kalisz is the better bet when you factor in his sweet +400 odds.

Katinka Hosszu to Win Women’s 400m Individual Medley (-140)

Hosszu is undeniably nearing the end of the road as a champion Olympic swimmer, but the 32-year old could be in a position to go out on top in Tokyo.

The Hungarian has won three times at the Olympics and has racked up nine other championships in her career, making her a legitimate favorite heading into the Olympics.

Hosszu holds numerous world records, including the top speed for the 400m individual medley, where she’s favored to win this summer.

She took home gold back in 2016, and with continued dominance in recent years, there isn’t much to suggest she’s about to get taken out in Tokyo.

Michael Andrew to Win Men’s 200m Individual Medley (+145)

The odds suggest this is a slightly safer bet, although bettors should know by now there is nothing safe about betting on Olympic swimming.

Still, Andrew offers solid value at this +145 price, and he tentatively comes in as the favorite at Bovada.

The 22-year old Andrew took home the world championship in the 100m individual medley in 2016 and seems poised to shoot for gold in Tokyo.

Andrew dominated with three wins at the 2021 TYR Pro Swim Series, while his 100m time was the second-fastest ever recorded in the United States and the fastest of the year.

He also finished first at the Olympic trials in this event and seems like a star on the rise in the swimming realm.

The odds indicate Andrew isn’t a slam dunk, but that’s largely due to him being unproven and the competition being strong. Overall, I love Andrew’s talent, past production, and upside. The price seals the deal for me.

Katie Ledecky to Win Women’s 200m Freestyle (+325)

Ledecky is one of the most accomplished swimmers competing at the Tokyo Olympics, and she’s certainly one of the more recognizable stars.

The 24-year old has dominated in her short career, racking up five gold medals across two Olympic Games appearances.

One was in the 200m freestyle, where she comes in with the second-best odds at most sites for betting on the Olympics.

Ledecky won the 800m freestyle in London in 2012 and dominated with four gold medals in Rio. She does face the tough task of taking out Ariarne Titmus (-225 betting favorite at Bovada), a surging star in the swimming world.

That said, this will be the first Olympic Games appearance for Titmus, so experience could be a big factor here. I’ll side with Ledecky, who has the edge in experience and production by a large amount.

Ryan Murphy to Win Men’s 200m Backstroke (+350)

Evgeny Rylov is the clear favorite to win this swimming category. The 24-year old nabbed the bronze medal at Rio back in 2016, and he looks primed for even more success.

Since 2016, he’s secured numerous titles in this event (as well as others), most recently edging out Ryan Murphy (silver) at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships.

Hats off to Rylov for the ascension, but Murphy remains a problem. He also happens to be one heck of a value for anyone looking to bet on the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Murphy obviously finished second in Gwangju, but he wasn’t even behind by a full second. Murphy also was firing on all cylinders in Rio, where he secured three gold medals.

One was in this very event, so getting him at +350 to deliver some payback feels like a fine bet.

Maggie MacNeil to Win Women’s 100m Butterfly (+400)

If you’re looking for the best bets in the swimming categories at the Tokyo Olympics, you want picks that will win. Ideally, they also offer some solid bang for your buck.

I think Huske checks both boxes in the 100m Butterfly. She undeniably offers the best value, with most Olympics betting sites giving her +400 odds, but she’s also a good bet to get the job done.

Torri Huske enters as the +150 favorite, but this looks to be a fairly wide-open event. As in, MacNeil could swoop in and steal a big win if she brings her A-game.

She’s been doing that so far in 2021, as MacNeil is the current world champion (gold at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju) and also holds the record for the 100m butterfly.

MacNeil is the total package here, as she’s the current record holder in this event, and she’s fresh off of a big title. She also took out reigning Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom, proving she has what it takes to beat the best in the world.

Other Tokyo Olympics Swimming Bets to Consider

This is all fairly subjective, but these look like some of the best bets for the swimming categories at the Tokyo Olympics.

Many of the favorites are priced through the roof, but many of the categories listed here are either wide open, or the top challenger is just too good of a price.

Big names like Murphy, Ledecky, and MacNeil stand out in that regard, while you’ll want to be on the lookout for some rising stars like Andrew, among others.

I really just went after the best Olympics swimming bets regarding pricing and ability to get the win. They won’t all hit, but if you start your Tokyo betting process here, I think you’ll be in good shape.

There are many ways to go at the Tokyo Olympic Games, of course, so here are a few other bets that stand out.

  • Caeleb Dressel (-600) in the men’s 100m butterfly
  • Florian Wellbrock (+125) in the men’s 1500m freestyle
  • Katie Ledecky (-350) in the women’s 800m freestyle

The latter is probably my favorite of that group, while Dressel’s -600 odds are a bit rich. Again, there is so much to think about when betting on the Olympics – and that’s just the swimming wagers!

For some more Olympics bets to target, check out the posts below.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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