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Caeleb joins pantheon of pool greats

China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-01 06:47

Star is born as young American matches Phelps' gold-medal mark

BUDAPEST - Michael Phelps, you've got company.

Caeleb Dressel won his seventh gold medal of the World Aquatics Championships on Sunday, putting the US team ahead to stay with another dominating swim in the 4x100m medley relay.

Twenty-four hours after becoming the first swimmer to win three golds in one night at a major international meet, Dressel joined Phelps in another elite club: seven golds at the second-biggest meet after the Olympics.

Phelps was the first to do it at the 2007 worlds in Melbourne, Australia - a prelude to his unprecedented eight golds the following year at the Beijing Olympics.

Dressel matched the feat along the banks of the Danube, emerging as America's next swimming sensation.

"We're seeing a star being born," teammate Matt Grevers said.

Caeleb joins pantheon of pool greats

The 20-year-old University of Florida student won three individual golds and was part of four winning relay teams.

"I'm pretty tired, but, you know, it's been a good season, a good year, and to put together a seven-day meet, it's a really nice feeling," Dressel said. "There's a lot more that goes into this than just the seven days that people see, so I'm very happy to be done."

It was a big night all around for the Americans.

Lilly King set her second individual world record of the meet in the 50m breaststroke, again besting Russian rival Yulia Efimova, and returned as part of the women's 4x100m medley relay that also broke the world record.

"I couldn't imagine a better finish to this meet," King said.

This meet will be remembered as Dressel's coming-out party.

He won the 50 and 100 freestyle, and nearly took down Phelps' world record in the 100 butterfly. Dressel was a beast on the relays, swimming both the free and fly.

Phelps' feat at world championships still stands supreme since five of his seven golds were in individual events, and he didn't have the benefit of the mixed relays. Dressel won a pair of golds in that relatively new race, which he was quick to point out after his three wins on Saturday.

But the comparisons to the most decorated athlete in Olympic history are sure to pick up steam heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Dressel swam the fly in the final event of the meet, taking over for the third leg with the Americans facing a slight deficit after world-record holder Adam Peaty pushed Britain ahead on the breaststroke.

No worries.

Dressel surged to the front with a down-and-back time of 49.76sec - the only butterfly swimmer to break 50 seconds. Nathan Adrian took over for the freestyle anchor with a comfortable lead, pulling away to win in 3min, 27.91 sec. Britain settled for the silver, more than a second behind.

When Adrian touched, Dressel hugged his other teammates, Grevers and Kevin Cordes. As everyone else walked off deck, Dressel lingered a bit, watching a replay of the race on the video board.

It must have seemed more than a little surreal.

"I've never had had it happen," Dressel said, "so I don't really know what to say.

To the surprise of no one, he was named the top male swimmer of the meet. The female award when to Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, who capped off a stellar performance of her own with a bit of redemption in the 50m free.

After setting a world record in the semifinals, Sjostrom completed the furious dash from one end of the pool to the other in 23.69sec - just two-hundredths off her mark the previous evening. Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands claimed the silver, while Simone Manuel of the US settled for bronze.

It was Manuel who knocked off Sjostrom in the 100m free after the Swede went out far too fast on the opening lap and had nothing left for the return. This time, she didn't have to come back.

Associated Press

(China Daily 08/01/2017 page22)

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