By Sharon Robb
Budapest, Hungary, July 29, 2017—In the span of one hour and 42 minutes, University of Florida’s Caeleb Dressel made history Saturday night at the 17th FINA World Aquatic Championships at Duna Arena.
The former Clay High School and Bolles Club swimmer, became the first man to win three gold medals in a single night and first to win the 100 in both the freestyle and butterfly at worlds.
Dressel, 20, won his fourth, fifth and sixth gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly and 4×100-mixed freestyle relay.
Dressel has already won more gold medals than every other entire national team. Great Britain is second behind him with four golds.
On Sunday, if he wins as a member of the 4×100 medley relay, he will tie Michael Phelps’ all-time record with his seventh gold in a single world championships.
In his first day of the race, Dressel won the 50-meter freestyle in an American record of 21.15. He had the quickest start to top a stacked field of sprinters.
Just 34 minutes later, Dressel won the 100-meter butterfly in 49.86, second fastest on the all-time list and only 4/100ths of a second off Phelps’ world record from 2009.
“Being that close to something feels so good and it was unexpected,” Dressel said. “It is nice to be that close to the record.”
One hour and one awards ceremony later, Dressel finished the night on the winning mixed freestyle relay with Nathan Adrian, Mallory Comerford and Simone Manuel in a world record 3:19.60.
“After the medal ceremony, it is exciting when you have to run to another race,” Dressel said. “It is physically tiring and mentally straining. You gotta take one swim at a time and recover fairly quickly.”
Dressel is the fourth American man to win three individual gold medals at one world championship joining Tim Shaw (1975), Phelps (2003, 2007) and Ryan Lochte (2011).
“There are a lot of young talented guys in USA Swimming,” Dressel said. “Plenty of talent to go around. It is not just all on me.”
Former Bolles swimmer Joseph Schooling of Singapore won his first medal, a bronze in the 100-meter butterfly which he also won at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Schooling tied for third with Great Britain’s James Guy in 50.83.
“It was a fantastic swim, a very close race,” Schooling said. “I feel lucky to have finished third in the end.”
In other races:
American Katie Ledecky won her 14th gold in worlds history in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:12.68, eight seconds slower than her world record.
“I am happy with my gold medals but there is always room for improvement,” Ledecky said. “My time wasn’t as fast as I have been in the past. You take it and it was the end of a long week with lots of ups and downs.”
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrum won the 50-meter butterfly in a championship record of 24.60.
“I know that I swim really well when I have a warm up race before,” Sjostrum said. “I got a really good start and I could feel I was swimming fast. It felt really good.”
American Kelsi Worrell failed to earn a podium spot but she did break the American record in the 50-meter butterfly in 24.48. She finished fourth among a fast women’s field. She broke the record of 25.50 set by American sprinter Dara Torres in 2009, the supersuit era. Worrell is now tied as the ninth fastest swimmer ever.
Aussie Emily Seebom knocked off Hungarian Katinka Hosszu in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:05.68. Hosszu took silver in 2:05.85, her 12th world medal.
After knocking off Serbia to get to the finals, Croatia didn’t waste its opportunity and defeated crowd favorite Hungary, 8-6, in the gold medal final. It was the first time Croatia won the gold medal in ten years since the world championships in Australia. Croatia jumped out to a 4-0 lead but Hungary rallied for a 4-4 tie. Early in the fourth, Croatia regained its advantage, 7-4 and went on to finish with another goal. Hungary goalkeeper Marton Vamos was named championship MVP. It would have been Hungary’s fourth world title in ten finals. Hungary has a record 11 medals overall—three gold,seven silver and one bronze. Also at Alfred Hajos Pool, outgoing world champion Serbia defeated Greece, 11-8, for the bronze medal.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org