What A Finish! Dressel, Finke, U.S. Men’s Relay Win Gold, Breaks World Record

By Sharon Robb
TOKYO, Japan, July 31, 2021–In an exciting finish to the eight-day swimming competition, the U.S. men came up big Saturday at the Olympic Aquatics Centre.

Caeleb Dressel, 24, won his fifth gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics joining the elite group of Michael Phelps, Matt Biondi and Mark Spitz as the only U.S. swimmers to win five gold medals in a single Olympic Games.

Dressel won the 50-meter freestyle in an Olympic record 21.07 and rallied the underdog 4×100-meter medley relay team to a gold medal and world record 3:26.78 to keep the U.S. team’s undefeated streak alive at 15. Dressel also won gold medals in the 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 4×100 free relay earlier in the week.

After strong relay legs from Ryan Murphy (52.31 split) and Michael Andrew (58.49 split), Dressel gave anchor leg Zach Apple (46.95 split) a half-second lead going into the freestyle leg. Dressel’s relay leg of 49.03 was the fastest in history. The U.S. had never lost the relay but were considered underdogs to Great Britain after barely qualifying for the final by 3/10ths of a second and ending up in Lane One for the final.

The relay broke a 12-year-old world record held by a U.S. team that included Phelps and Aaron Piersol at the 2009 World Championships.

Before the relay, Dressel won his sixth gold overall (in two Olympics) and fourth in Tokyo. With the second-fastest start (0.63), Dressel held off Frenchman Florent Manaudou, who had the quickest start (0.61), to win in 21.07. Manaudou took silver in 21.55.

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus, who trains at Coral Springs Swim Club, took the bronze in 21.57 for his first career Olympic medal at age 32. It was the 91st time Fratus has broken 22 seconds, more than any other swimmer in history.

St. Petersburg’s Bobby Finke did it again. Just as he did in the 800-meter freestyle to win gold, the University of Florida senior turned on the after jets in the final 50 with a 25.7 split to win the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:39.65.

It was the first time a U.S. male won the 1500 event since Mike O’Brien of Mission Viejo 37 years ago at the 1984 Olympic Games.

“This means the world to me,” Finke said. “I was just trying to hold on and get my hand on the wall.”

In the women’s championship medal finals:

Women’s 50-meter freestyle:
Aussie Emma McKeon, 27, won her sixth medal of the Games with an Olympic record time of 23.81 and another gold in the medley relay to become the most decorated Aussie swimmer in a single Olympics. She had the slowest start (0.70) but turned it on in the final 10 meters. Sweden’s world record holder Sarah Sjoestroem, 27, overcame a fractured elbow sustained in February when she slipped on ice, to take home the silver medal in 24.07 and her fourth Olympic medal of her career. She had the second fastest start (0.63). Denmark’s Pernille Blume, who had the fastest start (0.62) and was defending champion after winning in Rio, won the bronze in 24.21. Only 3/10ths of a second separated the field of eight women that had won 28 combined Olympic medals.

Women’s 4×100-meter medley relay: Three teenagers Regan Smith, Lydia Jacoby and Torri Huske and Olympian Abbey Weitzeil, swimming anchor leg, just missed a gold medal by 3/100ths of a second. Australia won in an Olympic record 3:51.60, the eighth gold medal for the Aussies. The U.S. finished in 3:51.73. Canada was third in 3:52.60. The U.S. women had won 10 of the last 14 relay titles.

With the open water events still to come this week, the U.S. finished with 30 medals (11 gold, 10 silver, 9 bronze)and Australia earned 20 (9 gold, 3 silver, 8 bronze). Great Britain was third with 8 medals (4 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze). Twenty one nations managed to win at least one medal in Olympic swimming.


50-meter freestyle: 1. Emma McKeon, AUS 23.81, OR, 2. Sarah Sjoestroem, SWE 24.07, 3. Pernille Blume, DEN 24.21.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. Australia 3:51.60, OR, 2. U.S. 3:51.73, 3. Canada 3:52.60.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Caeleb Dressel, US 21.07, OR, 2. Florent Manaudou, FRA 21.55, 3. Bruno Fratus, BRA 21.57.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Bobby Finke, US 14:39.65, 2. Mykhailo Romanchuk, UKR 14:40.66, 3. Florian Wellbrook, GER 14:40.91.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. US 3:26.78, WR, 2. Great Britain 3:27.51, ER, 3. Italy 3:29.17.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Aussie Ariarne Titmus Knocks Off Katie Ledecky; Peaty, MacNeil, Dressel Win Gold

By Sharon Robb
TOKYO, Japan, July 25, 2021–In a thrilling showdown, Ariarne Titmus of Australia knocked off defending champion and world record holder Katie Ledecky Sunday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Swimming side-by-side in the 400-meter freestyle, the Tasmanian-born Titmus, 20, closed the gap to 2/10ths of a second at the 300-meter mark and pulled ahead in the final 50 meters to win in 3:56.69, an Oceanic women’s record and second fastest time in history.

Titmus, ranked No. 1 in the world, handed Ledecky, 24, her first individual Olympic loss. The American finished in 3:57.36, her second fastest career time. China’s Bingjie Li was third in an Asian record 4:01.88.

“I can’t believe it, I’m trying to contain my emotions,” Titmus said. “This past year I don’t know whether it’s gone fast or slow, but to get here was a relief. To come here and do the job, I’m over the moon.

“I thanked her, I wouldn’t be here without her. She set this incredible standard. I’ve been trying to chase her, it’s really exciting now we have this battle going. It’s really fun to race.

“I tried to stay as composed as I could. Then just tried to stick to my race plan. I can’t believe I pulled it off.”

The Ledecky-Titmus matchup was one of the most anticipated and talked-about Olympic races. Titmus had defeated Ledecky at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea in the 400 freestyle but Ledecky had a severe stomach virus. In June, Titmus had flirted with Ledecky’s world record of 3:56.46 when she went 3:56.90 at her country’s Olympic trials.

Titmus won the first individual gold medal for Australia since Stephanie Rice in 2008.

“I looked at the 300 and saw she was right there,” Ledecky said. “I knew it would be a fight to the finish. I can’t be disappointed. I did my best, I fought tooth and nail. She said she couldn’t have done it without me and I think she pushed me.”

Titmus’ coach Dean Boxall was emotional and animated after watching his swimmer touch first, running and gyrating in the stands.

It ended Ledecky’s quest to win the first of five possible gold medals. The two will meet again in the 200 and 800 freestyles and 4×200 freestyle relay.

In the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay final, anchor leg Zach Apple pulled away with a 46.6 split for a 9/10ths of a second lead to clinch the win for the U.S. in 3:08.97. Italy was second in 3:10.11 and Australia third in 3:10.22.

Floridian Caeleb Dressel led off in 47.2 followed by Blake Pieroni in 47.5 and Bowen Becker in 47.4 who led by 2/10ths after the third leg.

“We knew there was a huge target on our back,” said Dressel, a Clay High School, Bolles Club and Florida alum. “I’d say we dominated that pretty well. We’re never going to doubt ourselves, that’s not how the U.S. team works. We had a couple people rule us out in that event. We’re never going to take that so it feels nice to dominate and have it back on home soil.”

The U.S. men have won two of the last three Olympic 400 relays.

Local swimmers results:

Azura’s Celina Marquez of El Salvador, fifth in her heat of the 100-meter backstroke in 1:03.75.

Aruba’s Mikel Schreuders, an NSU University School/Pine Crest Club alum, second in his heat of the 200-meter freestyle in 1:49.43.

Azura’s Joaquin Vargas of Peru, third in his heat of the 200-meter freestyle in 1:49.93.

In other championship medal finals:

Women’s 100-meter butterfly:
Canadian Maggie MacNeil, in the outside lane, swam the second fastest time in history to win the gold medal in 55.59 ahead of China’s Yufei Zhang in 55.64 and Aussie Emma McKeon in 55.72. American 18-year-old Stanford-commit Torri Huske o f Arlington, Va. missed the podium by 1/100ths in 55.73. MacNeil, World and Pan Pac champion who swims at University of Michigan, is the first Canadian to win the gold medal in the event. Swimming without her contact lenses, it took her a while to focus on the scoreboard and realize she was listed first. World and Olympic record holder Sarah Sjoestroem of Sweden, who bounced back from a shattered elbow sustained slipping on ice, was seventh in 56.91.

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Defending champion, world record holder and heavy favorite Adam Peaty of Great Britain won back-to-back Olympic gold in 57.37 ahead of Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands in 58.00, the first medal in the event for his country and Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy in 58.33. American medal favorite Michael Andrew finished out of the medals placing fourth in 58.84.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Maggie MacNeil, CAN 55.59, 2. Yufei Zhang, CHINA 55.64, 3. Emma McKeon, AUS 55.72.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Ariarne Titmus, AUS 3:56.69, 2. Katie Ledecky, US 3:57.36, 3. Bingjie Li, CHINA 4:01.08.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Adam Peaty, GBR 57.37, 2. Arno Kamminga, Netherlands 58.00, 3. Nicolo Martinenghi, ITA 58.33.

4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. United States 3:08.97, 2. Italy 3:10.11, 3. Australia 3:10.22.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com