By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Saturday, July 27, 2019
GWANGJU, South Korea – Last night, Caeleb Dressel set the world record in the semifinals of the men’s 100m butterfly.
While he was happy to have his made his own place in swimming history, he said the important thing is to refocus and get the job done in tonight’s finals. All eyes will be on him and teammate Regan Smith – who also set a world record in last night’s semifinals of the 200m backstroke – as they swim for gold tonight.
Day 7 began with prelims of the women’s 50m freestyle, the men’s 50m backstroke, the women’s 50m breaststroke, the mixed 400m free relay, and the men’s 1500m freestyle.
The top eight teams in the mixed 400m free relay will compete in tonight’s finals. The top eight swimmers in the men’s 1500m free will compete in tomorrow night’s finals. The top 16 swimmers in each of the 50s will compete in tonight’s semifinals.
Americans competing in this morning’s prelims were Simone Manuel in the women’s 50 free (2nd, 24.40); Abbey Weitzeil in the women’s 50m free (6th, 24.47); Michael Andrew in the men’s 50m backstroke (2nd, 24.70); Ryan Murphy in the men’s 50m backstroke, (6th, 24.93); Lilly King in the women’s 50m breaststroke (2nd, 30.18); Jordan Wilimovsky in the men's 1500m free (11th, 14:59.94); and Zane Grothe in the men's 1500m free (26th, 15:21.43).
Swimmers will compete for medals tonight in the women’s 50m butterfly, men’s 50m freestyle, men’s 100m butterfly, women’s 200m backstroke, women’s 800m freestyle and the mixed 400m free relay.
Here’s a look at the U.S. team’s prospects in each event:
Women’s 50m Butterfly
Kelsi Dahlia qualified as the fourth seed and will be the lone American swimming in tonight’s finals of the 50m butterfly. Dahlia finished fourth in this event at the 2017 World Championships. So far this week, she finished sixth in the 100m butterfly and won silver in the women’s 400m free relay and in the mixed 400m medley relay (prelims). The U.S. has medaled just once in this event at a World Championships – a silver from Jenny Thompson in 2003.
Men’s 50m Freestyle
The first race of what could be a tough triple (yes, triple) for Caeleb Dressel. Dressel qualified as the top seed in last night’s semifinals in 21.18, just three-hundredths off the American record he set winning this event at the 2017 World Championships. Dressel has won three gold medals so far this week in the 100m free, 50m fly and 400m free relay. He also has a silver in the mixed 400m medley relay. If he wins, Dressel will become just the second American to repeat as world champion in the 50m free. Tom Jaeger won in 1986 and 1991.
Joining Dressel in the finals will be teammate Michael Andrew as the eighth seed. No medals for Andrew this week, but he has competed in five events, including the 50 and 100 breast, the 50 fly and prelims of the 50m back this morning.
Men’s 100m Butterfly
Dressel will have a couple semifinals to rest up and then he will be back in action in the men’s 100m butterfly. As mentioned earlier, he broke the world record in last night’s semis, taking down the mark set by Michael Phelps 10 years ago at the 2009 World Championships. He will be the only American competing in finals.
Women’s 200m Backstroke
It’s been smooth sailing for Regan Smith so far. She broke the world junior record in this event in yesterday’s prelims and then set the world record in last night’s semis. She is competing at her second World Championships. At the last worlds in 2017, she finished eighth in this event. The U.S. has had eight straight podium finishes in the 200m back at Worlds. The last American to win gold was Missy Franklin in 2013. Kathleen Baker won the last medal – a bronze – in 2017.
Women’s 800m Freestyle
The 800m freestyle has belonged to Katie Ledecky since 2012. She has two Olympic and three World Championship titles in this event and has never lost this race at a major international competition. She is the world record-holder and owns 23 of the top 25 performances of all time in the 800m free. However, Ledecky was sick earlier this week and scratched from the prelims of the 200m freestyle and the finals of the 1500m free. She came back to swim in the women’s 800m free relay on Thursday, turning in the fastest of the four legs for the Americans, the third-fastest leg of the 32 swimmers competing in that final.
She is not the top seed in tonight’s final. That honor went to teammate Leah Smith, while Ledecky qualified second. Smith took bronze in this event at the last World Championships in 2017. She also picked up a bronze on the first night of competition here in the 400m free and a silver in the 800m free relay (prelims).
The U.S. has medaled at 16 of 17 World Championships in the women’s 800m free, and Ledecky is the only swimmer with three world titles in this event.
Mixed 400m Free Relay
The U.S. looks to defend its world title (and world record) tonight. It is the top team after this morning’s prelims, with Blake Pieroni, Nathan Adrian, Katie McLaughlin and Abbey Weitzeil turning in a time of 3:22.70. Splits for each swimmer were as follows: Pieroni, 48.15; Adrian, 47.67; McLaughlin, 53.96; and Weitzeil, 52.92. The final lineup will be released shortly before the start of finals. If Dressel swims in finals tonight, it will be his third event of the session.