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SWIMMING | American Caeleb Dressel Breaks Olympic Record in 100-Meter Freestyle Final

The decorated pool star earned his second gold medal of the Tokyo Games, the first coming in the men’s 4x100 freestyle relay.


Caeleb Dressel was the fastest man in the pool on Thursday morning, July 29.

The men’s 100-meter freestyle final was his global showcase, his opportunity to remind everyone that he’s one of the premier names in the sport in the post-Michael Phelps era.

Dressel set a blistering pace over the first 50 meters, reaching the midway point in 22.39 seconds, then held off his closest challenge, Kyle Chalmers of Australia, to capture his second gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics.

In doing so, Dressel broke the Olympic record in the evening, completing the race in 47.02 seconds. Australia’s Eamon Sullivan set the previous record (47.05 seconds) on August 13, 2008, at the Beijing Olympics. Brazil’s Cesar Cielo set the world record (46.91) on June 30, 2009, in Rome.

"There's been a lot of pressure on me. There's nothing wrong with pressure but there is with stress. I handled it well and I am happy," the 24-year-old Dressel was quoted as saying by BBC Sport after the race.

Chalmers claimed the silver in 47.08, while Russian Kliment Kolesnikov hauled in the bronze in 47.44.

In his first Olympics, Dressel won a pair of gold medals on the U.S. men’s 4x100 freestyle and 4x100 medley relay teams at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

On Monday, July 26, he won his second 4x100 freestyle gold.

Finke Triumphs in Men’s 800

Also Thursday, American Robert Finke was victorious in the men’s 800-meter freestyle final in 7 minutes, 41.87 seconds, followed by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri (7:42.11) and Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine (7:42.33).

In the men’s 200 breaststroke final, Australia’s Izaac Stubblety-Cook shattered the Olympic record en route to gold. He finished in 2:06.38. The Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga was second in 2:07.01 and Finland’s Matti Mattsson placed third in 2:07.13. 

Japan’s Ryuya Mura finished seventh in 2:08.42.

"My goal was to win a medal, but I think the experience of competing at an Olympic final will help me in my career,” Mura told reporters.

Stubblety-Cook broke Mura’s compatriot Ippei Watanabe’s Olympic mark of 2:07.22, which he set at the Rio Olympics.

China’s Yufei Zhang, a two-time Olympian, won the women’s 200 butterfly (2:03.86, an Olympic record). Americans Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger collected the silver and bronze, respectively, in 2:05.30 and 2:05.65.

China Sets World Record in Women’s Freestyle Relay

A world record was set in the women’s 4x200 freestyle relay final, with China’s Junxuan Yang, Muhan Tang, Zhang and Bingjie Li completing the race in 7:40.33. The previous record, set by an Australian quartet on June 25, 2019, was 7:41.50. Team USA grabbed the silver and Australia claimed the bronze.

Daiya Seto, who made his Olympic debut for Japan in 2016, advanced to the 200 individual final as the third-fastest man, completing his morning qualifying heat in 1:58.86.

Seto was the bronze medalist in the 400 IM in Rio, but didn’t swim fast enough to qualify for the final this time.

Now, he’s looking forward to having another shot at a medal. The 20O IM final is on Friday, July 30 at 11:16 a.m. China’s Shun Wang had the fastest swim a day earlier in the semifinals (1:56.22).

"I believed in everything I've done," Seto said, according to Kyodo News. "I was frustrated that I couldn't deliver results here. Now, I want to make the most of this chance."

Kosuke Hagino, the 40O IM champ at the Rio Games, also qualified for the final, finishing his qualifying heat in 1:57.47. The Japanese fan favorite opted to skip the 400 IM at the current Olympics.

In the men’s 200 backstroke, Ryosuke Irie swam 1:56.69 in his semifinal heat on Thursday to book a spot in the next day’s eight-man final. Irie was the silver medalist at the 2012 London Games, then slipped to eighth in Brazil four years later.

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward's [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays,  in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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