By Sharon Robb
GWANGJU, South Korea, July 25, 2019—Caeleb Dressel held on to defend his 100-meter freestyle and flirted with a 10-year old world record on Day Five of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Thursday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre.
The University of Florida and Bolles Club alum did break the American record by 2/10ths in 46.96, third fastest in history and only man to dip under 47 seconds. He was only 0.05 seconds off the 10-year-old world record of 46.91 set by Brazil’s Cesar Cielo.
“It hurt really bad to be honest,” Dressel said. “You don’t always get that magical feeling every night but you’ve just got to shut the brain off and go.
“It took 100 per cent effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race,” Dressel said. “I kind of shut off thinking about the race so that helped a lot and having Kyle (Chalmers) right there.”
It was Dressel’s third gold medal and fourth medal overall.
Dressel’s other golds came in the 50-meter butterfly, a non-Olympic event, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay. He took silver in the mixed 4×100-meter medley relay.
“I know I was just off the world record, but really the goal was just to swim the best race that I could, and if that was the time I got tonight, I was happy,” Dressel said. “I’m going to talk to [Coach Gregg] Troy, and I guarantee you the first thing he’s going to say is what we could have done better.”
After scratching from two events because of illness, five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky returned to the pool to help the U.S. win silver in the 4×200-meter freestyle behind Australia’s world record performance of 7:41.50 with Ariarne Titmus, Madison Wilson, Brianna Throssell and Emma McKeon. The previous record was 7:42.08 held by China. It was the first time the Aussies won a world title in the relay event. The U.S. had won three straight world titles.
“I wasn’t thinking about a world record,” McKeon said. “Was it a 2009 record? To break that this year is so exciting. I was hurting a lot but when it comes to a relay you really give it your all. Just touching the wall and seeing the three others celebrate, it made me so excited,” McKeon said.
Ledecky was joined by Katie McLaughlin, Melanie Margalis of St. Petersburg and Simone Manuel and finished in 7:41.87. Canada took the bronze.
Outspoken American Lilly King was disqualified from the 200-meter breaststroke prelims. She won the third heat in 2:24.56 but was disqualified for not touching the wall with both hands at the same time at the first turn of the four-lap race.
The U.S. team filed a formal protest which was denied by FINA’s appeals process and also lost a jury of appeal.
In other finals:
Boglarka Kapas out-touched Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot to win the women’s 200-meter butterfly in 2:06.78.
American Olivia Smoliga won the women’s 50-meter backstroke, a non-Olympic event, in 27.33. She won from Lane Two.
Japan’s Daiya Seto won the men’s 200-meter individual medley in 1:56.14, 0.42 seconds ahead of Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland and 2017 champion Chase Kalisz, ending the Americans’ streak of winning at eight consecutive worlds.
It was the first time a non-American won the event at an Olympics or worlds since 2001, snapping a streak of 12 straight titles among Phelps (seven), Ryan Lochte (four) and Kalisz (one). Kalisz, who swept the IMs at 2017 Worlds, has the 400m IM later this week.
In other news, FINA, the sport’s international governing body, threatened to strip medals and ban swimmers who protest on podiums during the medal ceremonies under a new Code of Conduct provision. Brit Duncan Scott and Aussie Mack Horton failed to acknowledge China’s Sun Yang during two medal ceremonies. Sun is coached by Aussie Denis Cotterell.
Day Six prelims include the men’s 100-yard butterfly, women’s 200-meter backstroke, men’s 50-meter free, women’s 50-meter butterfly, women’s 800-meter freestyle and men’s 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay.
The world championships has brought together a record 2,620 athletes from 194 countries and territories around the world with 76 sets of medals up for grabs in pool swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.
The meet will be streamed and televised by the Olympic Channel and live timing will be available.
Live Results: http://omegatiming.com
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org