TOKYO – Securing his place as one of the biggest stars of the Tokyo Olympics, Caeleb Dressel won the 50-meter freestyle early today. He then got his fifth gold medal of these Games in the 4x100 medley relay by swimming the butterfly leg, as the United States set a world record and remained unbeaten in the Olympics.
Dressel joined Americans Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi, as well as East Germany's Kristin Otto, as the only swimmers to win as many as five golds at a single Olympics. Phelps was able to do it three times.
Dressel cruised to a relatively easy win in the 50 meters with the frenetic dash from one end of the pool to the other, touching in an Olympic record of 21.07 seconds. When the 24-year-old Floridian saw his time and, more important, the “1” beside his name, he splashed the water and flexed his bulging arms.
Dressel swept the 50 and 100 freestyle races, to go along with a world-record triumph in the 100 butterfly and a leg on the winning U.S. team in the 4x100 free relay at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
A few minutes after Dressel climbed from the pool, Australia's Emma McKeon completed her own freestyle sweep. She touched in 23.81 seconds to take the women's 50 free, adding to her victory in the 100 and her sixth medal overall at these Games.
In keeping with the theme of the day, Bobby Finke pulled off his own sweep in the two longest freestyle races.
With another strong finishing kick, Finke became the first American man in 37 years to win the 1,500 freestyle. He added to his victory in the 800 free, a new men's event at these Games.
In the men's 50, France's Florent Manaudou finished behind Dressel to repeat as the Olympic silver medalist in 21.55, while Brazil's Bruno Fratus claimed the bronze in 21.57 – edging American Michael Andrew for the final spot on the podium.
In the ready room shortly before the race, Dressel paced back and forth anxiously while most of the other swimmers relaxed in their chairs.
Then, he was cool as can be in swimming's most furious lap. Popping up from the water with the lead, as is always the case with his impeccable underwater technique, Dressel was clearly in front all the way in a race that is often too close to call.
Just as he did in winning the 800 free, Finke stayed close throughout the 30-lap race and turned on the speed at the end. He touched in 14 minutes, 39.65 seconds. Ukraine's Mykhailo Romanchuk took the silver in 14:40.66, while the bronze went to Germany's Florian Wellbrock in 14:40.91.
In the 4x100 men's medley relay, the U.S. finished in world-record time of 3:26.78.