INDIANAPOLIS - Clay High swimmer Caeleb Dressel upped the ante on his expertise in the pool with a scintillating best-ever split in the 50 butterfly, yes, butterfly, as the former Blue Devil blasted …
INDIANAPOLIS - Clay High swimmer Caeleb Dressel upped the ante on his expertise in the pool with a scintillating best-ever split in the 50 butterfly, yes, butterfly, as the former Blue Devil blasted the field at the Phillips 66 U.S.A. National Championships/World Team qualifier Tuesday and Wednesday (June 27-28) at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis. On Thursday, Dressel doubled down with a win in the 100 butterfly, again in near record fashion and the top time in the world this year.
“I was a happy with the [butterfly races], and I couldn’t ask for more. I’m definitely a speed guy, that’s how I swim most of my races.” said Dressel in a post race press conference after the 100 butterfly final. “But I just want to swim a smart race. I don’t want to be labeled as a sprinter that goes out wicked fast and just dies. I want to be a speed guy that controls his races.”
Swimmers were looking for national titles as well as World Team berths to travel to Budapest for the World Championships in July. Dressel, with his top two finishes in four events will also be eligible for five relays at the World Championships. Dressel was top point getter for the meet with his 90 points topping Michael Andrews’s 72 points and Bolles teammate Ryan Murphy’s 65.
Dressel, who finished second by .01 to U.S. Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian in the 100 freestyle, his most widely acclaimed event, stormed away with the 50 butterfly title over U.S. Olympic silver medal freestyle sprinter Cullen Jones (50 free, 4 x 100 free relay 2012) with a record 23.05 in the final to smash Jones’ one day old record of 23.26 set in the morning preliminary rounds. Tim Phllips of North Carolina took third in the 50 butterfly at 23.37.
In the final day of competition, Saturday, Dressel returned to historically his favorite event, the 50 free, and held off Adrian to win the event in 21.53 for his third national title for the week. Adrian finished in 21.87 with Jones third in 21.89.
In the 50 fly preliminary rounds, Jones blistered the field with his 23.26 with Dressel second fastest at 23.33. Jones’ split bested the 2013 record of 23.29 set also in the Indianapolis pool by Eugene Godsoe. The world record is 22.43 and the American record is 22.91 by Bryan Lundquist set in 2009.
Dressel returned for the 100 butterfly final on Thursday where his he came in with the second fastest prelim split of 51.38 with Jack Conger of North Carolina top seed at 51.37. Conger was a gold medalist on the RIO 4 x 200 free relay team. In the final, Dressel had the second fastest time at the 50 meter turn (23.87) then blasted the field in the second 50 (27.00) to win in 50.87. Olympian Michael Phelps holds the world, USA and championship records for the event with a 50.22 the championship and USA record and a 49.82 the world record; all set in 2009. Tim Phillips of North Carolina was second in 51.30 with splits of 23.70 and 27.60. Conger matched Dressel’s 23.87 to the turn but faded to 27.46 to finish third in 51.33.
In the 100 free, where Dressel finished second in the Olympic Trials and sixth at the RIO 2016 Olympics, the entire finals field trailed Dressel and 50 meter leader Michael Chadwick at the turn; both were under 23 seconds, before Adrian, sixth at the turn, stormed to the finish with a 24.69 final 50 split to catch Dressel, who finished with a 25.11 split. Chadwick dropped to fifth overall with a 25.67 final 50 time. Overall, Adrian swam a 47.96 with Dressel at 47.97 for second and Townley Haas of Virginia third at 48.20.
“I didn’t know where the other swimmers were and I think if I looked around to see them, I would have lost,” said Adrian after the 100 free final. “I think coming back strong in the second 50 is now built into my nervous system. For so long, I had to answer the question of what happened to American sprinting. We are in a good place now.”
Ryan Murphy, the Olympic gold medalist in the 100 and 200 backstroke and a Bolles teammate of Dressel, finished eighth in the 100 free in 49.21.
On Thurs., June 29, Dressel finished sixth in the 200 freestyle at 1:47.51 with Haas the winner at 1:45.03. Haas led from start to finish with first touches at all turns.
On Saturday’s final event of the week, Dressel will be the fourth seed in the ultra-fast 50 free with Anthony Ervin, the Olympic gold medalist, Adrian and Jones all ahead of Dressel with splits from 1-4 at 21.40, 21.47, 21.75 and 21.76.
Also competing from the Bolles School and Orange Park, Auburn University senior Ashley Neidigh finished 14th in the 800 freestyle in 8:40.07 with Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Katie Ledecky of Stanford winning decisively in 8:11.50 with Leah Smith of Virginia second in a distant 8:20.46. Ledecky holds the world record at 8:04.79, the American record at 8:0668 and the meet record at 8:10.32.
In the womens 1500 free final set for Sat., July 1, Ledecky is ranked seventh with Neidigh 28th with top seed Ashley Twichell of North Carolina first at 8:25.31 for an 800 meter qualfying time. Ledecky holds all of the records; World at 15:25.48, American, U.S. Open, Long Course Nationals and Junior Worlds for the 1500 with her qualifying time at 15:35.65. Neidigh qualified with a 15:54.88 and eventually finished in 16:32.76 for 12th place.
On Thursday, Neidigh took 13th overall, seventh in the Consolation Final in the 400 individual medley with a 4:48.53 with Leah Smith of Virginia the national champion at 4:33.86.
In her best finish, the 400 free, Neidigh took eighth in 4:15.29 with Ledecky winning in 3:58.44.