Chad le Clos

Chad le Clos clips Caeleb Dressel at short course worlds

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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 LedeckySimone Manuel and Lilly King are among those not competing this week.

WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

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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Chad le Clos wins 200m butterfly, thanks Michael Phelps (video)

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Had Chad le Clos swum this fast in Rio, he would have gotten the better of Michael Phelps.

Le Clos, the shadow-boxing South African who drummed up a rivalry with Phelps the last Olympic cycle, recorded his fastest 200m butterfly since upsetting Phelps at London 2012 to win the world title Wednesday.

“I had a very difficult year last year, as you guys know, I lost to my great friend and idol Michael Phelps,” Le Clos said on NBCSN before tearing up in the medal ceremony. “I said last year, judge me by how I respond in adversity, and I proved it tonight.”

Le Clos clocked 1:53.33 in Budapest, which was .73 faster than he went in Rio, where he faded to fourth place while infamously peeking a lane over at Phelps in the last 50 meters.

Phelps, by the way, went .03 slower in Rio than Le Clos went Wednesday. That Olympic defeat served as motivation for Le Clos, who at 25 appears to have more gold medals in front of him.

“I’ve never been so hungry to be successful after last year,” said Le Clos, who rocketed out to a 1.11-second lead in the first 100 meters and hung on in the last 50. “So I must thank Michael Phelps for that.”

Le Clos will take on Rio Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and rising American Caeleb Dressel in the 100m butterfly. Heats and semis are Friday, with the final Saturday as Le Clos eyes a third straight world title in that event.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Results
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) — 1:53.33
Silver: Laszlo Cseh (HUN) — 1:53.72
Bronze: Daiya Seto (JPN) — 1:54.21
4. Tamas Kenderesi (HUN) — 1:54.73
5. Jack Conger (USA) — 1:54.88
6. Masato Sakai (JPN) — 1:55.04
7. Viktor Bromer (DEN) — 1:55.30
8. Antani Ivanov (BUL) — 1:55.98

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WORLDS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | Schedule/Results

U.S. men look to fill Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte void at swim worlds

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With Michael Phelps retired and Ryan Lochte suspended, the superstars at the world swimming championships clearly lie on the women’s side.

But the men’s events will include world-record chasers, a stinging rivalry and, perhaps, the emergence of Phelps and Lochte’s successor as leading U.S. man.

Caeleb Dressel came through in Rio under arguably the most pressure of any swimmer, starting off the U.S. 4x100m freestyle relay team in his very first Olympic splash with a personal-best time.

Dressel, a 20-year-old who nearly quit swimming three years ago as the No. 1 recruit in the nation, has nine events to choose from at worlds in Budapest starting Sunday.

He qualified in four individual events — 50m and 100m butterflies and freestyles — and is eligible for all five relays (two mixed-gender).

In the last 15 years, only two U.S. men have raced in four individual events at a single Olympics or world championships — Phelps and Lochte.

Dressel is in the medal mix in all of his individual events, ranking No. 1 in the world this year in the 100m fly, No. 3 in the 50m free, No. 4 in the 100m free and No. 5 in the 50m fly. He is also almost guaranteed medals in any relays that he enters given the unmatched U.S. depth.

Dressel has never been to a worlds and raced just one individual event in Rio. He’s the potential breakout star on a U.S. team, surrounded by more proven names.

SWIMMING WORLDS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | Event Schedule

Ryan Murphy, who swam for the same Jacksonville, Fla., club team as Dressel, swept the backstrokes in Rio and broke the 100m back world record leading off the medley relay. That dominance has not quite carried over so far in 2017. Murphy ranks third in the world in the 100m and 200m backs this year.

Chase Kalisz, a longtime Phelps training partner in Baltimore, has followed up his Rio Olympic 400m individual medley silver medal well this year. He chopped two seconds off his personal best in the 200m IM and goes into Budapest ranked No. 1 in the world in the 400m IM by nearly a half-second.

The U.S. boasts more medal threats including Nathan Adrian (sprint freestyles), Townley Haas (200m free), Cody Miller and Kevin Cordes (breaststrokes), but nobody is a clear favorite.

The surest bets are world-record holders Adam Peaty and Ippei Watanabe in the breaststrokes and Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri in the 1500m free. Paltrinieri could challenge a five-year-old world record held by Sun Yang.

Speaking of Sun, the mercurial Chinese superstar is set to renew his rivalry with Australian Mack Horton. In Rio, Horton memorably called Sun “a drug cheat,” in reference to Sun’s three-month suspension in 2014 for using a banned stimulant.

Horton then went out and beat Sun in the 400m freestyle, dethroning the Olympic and world champion. Horton and Sun could face off in four individual events in Budapest.

Key men’s finals:

Sunday, July 23
400m freestyle — Sun has been two seconds faster than Horton this year
4x100m freestyle relay — Olympic silver medalist France won’t defend world title; U.S. favored

Monday, July 24
100m breaststroke — Peaty has the eight fastest times ever and fastest by .95 this year

Tuesday, July 25
200m freestyle — Haas the only man within .64 of Sun in 2017
100m backstroke — Rio silver medalist Xu Jiayu was .01 shy of Murphy’s WR in April

Wednesday, July 26
200m butterfly — Japan and Hungary lead the post-Phelps-era world; Chad le Clos ranks 8th in 2017
800m freestyle — Italian Gabriele Detti fastest in 2017 by six seconds, but slower than Sun’s winning times in 2011, 2013, 2015

Thursday, July 27
200m individual medley — Phelps, Lochte won the last 12 Olympic/world titles
100m freestyle — Reigning Olympic and world champions’ absences open door for Adrian, Dressel

Friday, July 28
200m backstroke — U.S. won 14 of the last 15 Olympic/world titles, including Murphy in Rio
200m breaststroke — Watanabe broke WR in January; surprise Olympic champ Dmitriy Balandin ranks No. 127 this year
4x200m freestyle relay — U.S., without Lochte, Phelps, looks to take world title back from Great Britain

Saturday, July 29
50m freestyle — Reigning Olympic and world champions’ absences open door for Adrian, Dressel
100m butterfly — Joseph Schooling eyes Phelps’ WR, but Dressel ranks No. 1 in 2017

Sunday, July 30
400m individual medley — Kalisz ranks No. 1 in 2017, but time is .94 slower than Kosuke Hagino in Rio
1500m freestyle — Sun holds WR of 14:31 but hasn’t broken 14:55 since 2014
4x100m medley relay — Great Britain will lean on Peaty to challenge U.S.

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