Chad le Clos exacted some revenge against the U.S. from the last two years, edging Caeleb Dressel in the 100m butterfly at the world short-course championships in Hangzhou, China, on Thursday.
The South African le Clos held off Dressel, the new American golden boy, by .21 to win his fourth straight short-course world title in the event. Le Clos had struggled recently in the 100m fly in the longer, Olympic-sized pool, missing the final at 2017 Worlds (won by Dressel) after sharing silver with rival Michael Phelps and Laszlo Cseh in Rio.
Le Clos called Thursday the biggest race of his short-course career.
“I was anxious because I was waiting the whole day for this, the whole week and the past three months because I knew this one could come,” he said, according to FINA. “I really wanted to race Dressel. He is the best short-course yards swimmer, and I am the best meters swimmer.”
Dressel, who earned a Phelps record-tying seven golds at 2017 Worlds, may have been slowed in the 100m fly final by racing 25 minutes after his 50m freestyle semifinal. He later anchored a U.S. 4x50m mixed-gender medley relay to gold in a world-record time.
“The fly could have been better, but you just move on and learn from it,” he said, according to FINA.
Short-course worlds are held in even-numbered years in a 25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used at the Olympics. U.S. Olympic champions Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Lilly King are among those not competing this week.
In other events Thursday, Lisa Bratton was the surprise 200m backstroke champion, edging the U.S.’ best long-course backstroker, Kathleen Baker, by .08. Bratton, 22, missed the Rio Olympic team by one spot at trials and ranks fourth in the U.S. in the long-course 200m back this year.
Mallory Comerford added 100m free bronze to her 200m silver from earlier in the week, breaking Manuel’s American record and giving her five medals through the meet’s first three days.
Leah Smith earned 800m free bronze, as she did at long-course worlds last year.
Worlds continue Friday, with finals streaming live on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.
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