By Sharon Robb
GWANGJU, South Korea, July 27, 2019—Caeleb Dressel pulled off a hat trick on Day Seven of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Saturday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre.
The 22-year-old swimming sensation defended his 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly titles and was a member of the winning mixed 4×100-meter freestyle that broke a world record in 3:19.40.
Dressel, a University of Florida, Clay High School and Bolles Swim Club alum, is the first swimmer to win at least six gold medals at two world championships.
“It wasn’t easy tonight,” Dressel said. “I don’t want it to be easy, I really don’t.”
Dressel won the 50-meter freestyle breaking his own American record in 21.04 and 100-meter butterfly in 49.66 after breaking the world record in the semifinals in 49.50.
“It doesn’t just come together by accident,” Dressel said. “It’s just about getting in every day and learning event to event, practice to practice.
“But I’m glad it’s over. I certainly don’t want to swim any more than this tonight. Dressel could pocket a seventh gold and eighth medal of the week in Sunday’s 4x100m mixed medley. He also took silver in the 4×100-meter mixed medley.
“Tomorrow I will be ready to swim one more, and one more fast.”
Olympian and world record holder Katie Ledecky, 22, salvaged her world championships with a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle for her fourth consecutive title in the event. It was Ledecky’s 15th world title.
“I got to the pool this morning to warm up and felt a little nauseous again which wasn’t great,” Ledecky said. “I had a brief moment of doubt there, but pulled it together and made it happen today.
“Last night after watching all the fast swimming I said (to my coach) I so, so badly want to go have a good swim tomorrow. Just watching those records tumble… really fired me up.”
After scratching from two events because of illness, Ledecky came from .18 seconds behind to overtake leader Simona Quadarella of Italy and win in 8:13.58.
“I took it out like I usually do, and just kind of relied on my training to bring me home,” Ledecky said. “Simona was having a great race and pulled up right next to me, and when she did that, I kind of felt like I could stick with her and rely on my speed. I just tried to stay calm and relaxed from the 500 to the 750, and decided in the last 100 when I was going to make a move. I just put my legs into it and got my hand on the wall.”
A night after setting a world record in the semi-finals of the women’s 200 backstroke, 17-year-old American Regan Smith returned to win the final.
The only world title to escape the Americans on Saturday was the women’s 50-meter butterfly, won by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, her first of the meet.
“I’m very happy that I could win another medal especially after such a tough program I’ve been having,” said the Olympic 100 butterfly champion, who had needed an oxygen mask after winning bronze in the 200 freestyle.
Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club made her first final in the 50-meter breaststroke. She is the fifth fastest qualifier after semifinals in 30.61. She was the silver medalist in the event in 2015. American Lilly King is top qualifier in 29.84.
SOFLO teammate and Vietnam Olympian Vien Nguyen will compete in her third and final event, the 400-meter individual medley on Sunday.
Among other former or current Florida Gold Coast swimmer results: 50-meter freestyle, 47. Cathy Cooper, Panama 26.88, 49. Chade Nersicio, Curacao 27.13, 51. Lauren Hew, Cayman Islands 27.26; 50-meter breaststroke, 4. Alia Atkinson, Jamaica 30.53, 5. Atkinson, 30.61.
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 email@example.com