Caeleb Dressel wins three gold medals in one day at swimming worlds

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Who is replacing Michael Phelps as swimming’s alpha male? Caeleb Dressel answered loudly on Saturday.

Dressel became who is believed to be the first swimmer to win three gold medals in one day at an Olympics or world championships, giving him six golds for the meet in Budapest.

He can match Phelps’ record of seven golds at a worlds Sunday in the men’s medley relay.

“The comparisons … are probably inevitable,” Dressel said in a press conference Saturday night. “But I’m not the same person as Michael. … My goal here is not to count medals. So, it’s a tough question. I don’t know if I welcome them [comparisons], but I know they’re going to come. I don’t think it puts any more pressure on me.”

The rising University of Florida senior captured the 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly and was part of the winning U.S. mixed 4x100m freestyle relay in a two-hour span on Saturday. He received social media congratulations from Phelps on Instagram and Ryan Lochte on Twitter, plus a reported text from Phelps.

Also, Katie Ledecky finished worlds with her fifth gold (and sixth medal overall) by winning the 800m freestyle, but she was eight seconds slower than in Rio and followed by a 15-year-old Chinese phenom.

In the 50m free, Dressel clocked 21.15 seconds, an American record and the fastest time outside of the super-suit era. Brazil’s Bruno Fratus took silver in 21.27, followed by Great Britain’s Ben Proud for bronze.

In the 100m butterfly, Dressel won in 49.86, missing Michael Phelps‘ world record from the 2009 Worlds by .04. Hungarian Kristof Milak took silver in 50.62, followed by Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and James Guy sharing bronze in 50.83.

Finally, Dressel led off the mixed relay to an easy gold, being joined by Nathan AdrianMallory Comerford and Simone Manuel to break the world record by more than three seconds.

“It all goes back to training and just preparing for situations like this,” Dressel said on NBC. “College swimming, you’re used to swimming two or three times a night. … This isn’t just an accident. This is a three-year process.”

Before Saturday, Dressel won golds in the 100m freestyle, men’s 4x100m free relay and mixed 4x100m medley relay in Budapest.

He should anchor the heavily favored U.S. men’s medley relay on Sunday before taking an algebra test on Monday and then exploring Europe.

“I haven’t had much time to think tonight,” Dressel told media in Budapest. “As physically demanding as it is, mentally it’s even more straining. … Give myself 30 minutes tonight. I guess let it sink in a little bit, and then it’s time to refocus for that relay tomorrow.”

Though Dressel can match Phelps’ medal record, Phelps was unable to swim mixed relays as they were not on the worlds program when he won seven events in 2007. Mark Spitz also won seven golds at the 1972 Olympics without mixed relays.

“I wouldn’t put myself with that group yet,” Dressel said. “I’m still getting my feet wet in international swimming.”

Still, Dressel marked an incredible rise in the last year. The former No. 1 swim recruit in the nation, who nearly quit the sport three years ago, led off the Olympic 4x100m free relay to gold and swam one other individual event in Rio, placing sixth in the 100m free.

He qualified to swim in as many as nine events in Budapest, though he sat out one relay and placed fourth in the 50m butterfly.

Also Saturday, Australian Emily Seebohm won Australia’s first gold medal of the meet by repeating as 200m backstroke champion. Seebohm clocked a national record 2:05.68 to win by .17 over Katinka Hosszu. American Kathleen Baker picked up bronze.

Swede Sarah Sjöström won the 50m butterfly in 24.60 seconds, topping Dutchwoman Ranomi Kromowidjojo by a whopping .78. Farida Osman won Egypt’s first Olympic or world swimming medal with a bronze.

Sjöström clocked the second-fastest time ever and now holds the 12 fastest times ever in the non-Olympic event. She later broke the world record in the 50m freestyle semifinals, giving her four current world records (50m and 100m butterflies and freestyles).

Lilly King led the qualifiers into Sunday’s 50m breaststroke final by breaking her American record with a 29.60. She’ll be bordered by Russian rival Yulia Efimova, the No. 2 seed, in the final.

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WORLDS: TV Schedule | Schedule/Results | Race Videos

Men’s 50m Freestyle Results
Gold: Caeleb Dressel (USA) — 21.15
Silver: Bruno Fratus (BRA) — 21.27
Bronze: Ben Proud (GBR) — 21.43
4. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 21.46
5. Pawel Juraszek (POL) — 21.47
6. Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (FIN) — 21.67
7. Kristian Gkolomeev (GRE) — 21.73
8. Cesar Cielo (BRA) — 21.83

Men’s 100m Butterfly Results
Gold: Caeleb Dressel (USA) — 49.86
Silver: Kristof Milak (HUN) — 50.62
Bronze: Joseph Schooling (SGP) — 50.83
Bronze: James Guy (GBR) — 50.83
5. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) — 50.92
6. Li Zhuhao (CHN) — 50.96
7. Grant Irvine (AUS) — 51.00
8. Mehdy Metella (FRA) — 51.16

Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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