By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Monday, July 22, 2019
GWANGJU, South Korea – Ask Caeleb Dressel about repeating his seven-gold-medal performance from two years ago at the 2017 FINA World Championships, and he’ll tell you it’s not his focus this week at the Nambu University Aquatic Center.
But whatever his focus is, it seems to be working.
On the first night of the 18th FINA World Championships, Dressel won gold and helped set a meet record as a member of the American men’s 400m free relay. On Monday he won gold again, this time in the men’s 50m butterfly, his time of 22.35 shattering the meet and American record of 22.57 he set in Sunday night’s semifinals.
It was the only medal of the night for the United States, which has won five medals in the first two days of competition – two gold, two silver and a bronze.
“That’s faster than two years ago, and a better place than two years ago,” Dressel said. “I think it’s good – good for Team USA and good I can be a part of keeping that ball rolling.”
The 50 fly was the only event in which Dressel did not medal at Worlds two years ago. His win tonight marked the first time an American has won this event at a World Championships.
“I had no idea (about this being the first American gold),” Dressel said. “I just had two reporters tell me the same thing. I’m glad to be a part of it. I don’t think it was something we were too worried about.
“The 50s stroke are a little weird in the U.S. We don’t really do them too much. We’re starting to do them more and more, but it’s not really a thing. I guess it’s good we got one guy in there (for the medal). I’m glad it could be me.”
Dressel jumped out to a lead with his signature start, and just held on from there. Oleg Kostin of Russia was second in 22.70, and Nicholas Santos of Brazil was third in 22.79. Dressel’s teammate, Michael Andrew, was fourth in his first long course World Championship final, just missing a medal by a hundredth of a second in 22.80.
“I just focused on getting better each race, improving and just relaxing, because if I try to be fast, I’m just no good,” Dressel said. “It’s best to turn everything off and let instinct take over and just have a good race. That’s what I tried to do.
“It’s just a fun event. It mixes things up. It’s a lot less… stress isn’t really the right word, but it’s the only thing that comes to mind. It’s just good old-fashioned racing. It just doesn’t have that same pressure on it.”
Dressel has tomorrow off, but returns to competition Wednesday with the 100m freestyle and possibly the mixed medley relay.
“As of right now I’ll enjoy (the win) for a couple more minutes, then I’m warming down and forgetting about this and refocusing,” he said.
In other races, Andrew Wilson was the only American swimming in the final of the men’s 100m breaststroke, where he finished sixth in 59.11. It was his first career World Championship final. Adam Peaty of Great Britain couldn’t beat the world record of 56.88 he set in last night’s semifinals, but still took gold in 57.14. James Wilby of Great Britain was second in 58.46, and Yan Zibei of China was third in 58.63.
Kelsi Dahlia was also the lone American in the finals of the women’s 100m butterfly. After touching second at the 50-meter mark, she finished sixth in 57.11. It was the second final for Dahlia in as many nights. She was a member of the silver-medal-winning, American-record-breaking women’s 400m free relay on day 1. Margaret MacNeil of Canada was first in 55.83, followed by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden in 56.22 and Emma McKeon of Australia in 56.61.
Melanie Margalis missed a medal by two-tenths of a second in the women’s 200m IM, turning in a time of 2:08.91. Katinka Hosszu of Hungary won her fourth straight world championship title in this event in 2:07.53. Ye Shiwen of China took silver in 2:08.60, while Sydney Pickrem of Australia took bronze in 2:08.70.
Swimmers competed Monday in the semifinals of the men’s 100m backstroke, women’s 100m breaststroke, women’s 100m backstroke and men’s 200m freestyle. The top eight competitors in each of tonight’s semifinals advance to tomorrow night’s finals in those events.
American swimmers competing in tonight’s semifinals were Ryan Murphy in the men’s 100m backstroke (tied for 2nd, 52.44); Matt Grevers in the men’s 100m backstroke (4th, 52.82); Lilly King in the women’s 100m breaststroke (2nd, 1:05.66); Micah Sumrall in the women’s 100m breaststroke (16th, 1:07.94); Kathleen Baker in the women’s 100m backstroke (4th, 59.03); Olivia Smoliga in the women’s 100m backstroke (6th, 59.36); Towney Haas in the men’s 200m freestyle (14th, 1:46.37) and Andrew Seliskar in the men’s 200m freestyle (15th, 1:46.83).