BUDAPEST - Caeleb Dressel was asked about going from the swimmer that was chasing the world's best swimmers to the guy that those same swimmers are now chasing after he blitzed the 100 freestyle …
BUDAPEST - Caeleb Dressel was asked about going from the swimmer that was chasing the world's best swimmers to the guy that those same swimmers are now chasing after he blitzed the 100 freestyle final at the FINA World Swim Championships on July 27 in Budapest.
"I don't think it changed anything," said Dressel, in a post-race interview, who set a new American record in the event with his 47.17 split over American Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian, second in at 47.87. "Those guys are going to always be coming, you just always have to stay hungry."
Dressel, who won an astounding seven gold medals; with three individual golds, in his eight days in Budapest, was named the meet's Most Outstanding Male Swimmer. Dressel's lone non-medal event was the 50 butterfly where he finished fourth in 22.89 after posting the fastest split in the semifinals 22.76.
"The 50 fly is not popular in America and we only see it at world trials events," said Dressel. "We don't train for the 50 fly."
In a gold medal cache that tied American Micheal Phelp's 2007 record of seven gold medals in a single world championship competition, Dressel, after winning the 100 free on Thurs., July 27, earned the first individual sprint gold medal since 2001 when American Anthony Ervin won the 50 and 100 freestyle finals. Dressel later won the 50 free on Sat., July 29 to equal Ervin's accomplishment.
"I think the comparisons (to Phelps) are inevitable," said Dressel. "I'm not the same person as Michael. I'm not here to count medals. I just want to keep doing my own thing at this meet and for the future."
Dressel's total tally for the week included a 50 free gold in an American record, a 100 butterfly gold in an American record and just .04 seconds off of Micheal Phelp's 2009 world record and the 100 freestyle gold medal in an American record that has stood since 2009. Dressel also has a gold from the 4 x 100 free relay, a gold and world record as part of the mixed 400 medley relay, a gold in the mens 4 x 100 free relay and his final gold medal in the men's 4 x 100 medley relay with Dressel on the third leg; the butterfly.
The American team was named the Best Team of the Championship with 38 medals.
"There are a lot of young, up and coming swimmers in USA swimming and I don't think you can put the best swimmer all on me," said Dressel. "There is plenty of talent to go around."
In the 100 free final on Thurs., July 27, with France's Mehdy Metella out-touching Dressel in the semifinal rounds the night before for the top time of that series of races, Dressel blasted the first 50 in a remarkable 22.31 split then held on with the second fastest split for the second 50, 24.86 to edge out Adrian and Metella, who snagged third in 47.89.
"It was great to have the top seed flanked by Adrian and myself," said Dressel, positioned in lane five with Adrian in three and Metella in four. "I knew those guys would be coming after me. I just wanted to go out and do the best I could."
Adrian, seventh in the event at the 2015 World Championships, stormed back and overtook Metella in the final 10 meters with a strong 24.90 final 50 with Metella falling back at 25.31 after a 22.58 opening 50 meters.
In 2015, China's Zetao Ning won the 100 free final in 47.84.
"Nothing can prepare you for a meet like a meet," said Adrian, the Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Olympic Trials champion. "We got a lot of rest in Croatia before we came here and I think I kind of out-psyched myself in that first relay ( 4 x 100 free). I just relaxed in this one."
In the mixed medley relay, Dressel swam a 49.92 third leg in the butterfly with teammates Matt Grevers in backstroke, Lilly King in breaststroke and Simona Manuel the anchor in freestyle crushing the field in 3:38.56 to best the previous record of 3:40.28, also a previous American held world record. Dressel did not swim the morning preliminary round of the mixed relay, but the USA team was revamped with Dressel, in butterfly, and Matt Grevers in backstroke, teaming with Lilly King in breaststroke and Manuel in the anchor freestyle leg.
Dressel was the top qualifier in the 100 butterfly with a 50.08 split in the preliminary rounds on day six; Fri., July 28, and an even faster split, 50.07, in the semifinals, both at the time the third fastest ever for the event with American Michael Phelps holding the world mark at 49.82 from 2009.
"I didn't consider myself a butterfly swimmer, but I guess I'll be swimming a lot more fly in practice," said Dressel. "It's nice to get close the record."
On Sat., July 29, in the 100 butterfly final staged just 35 minutes after Dressel had bested the field in the 50 freestyle in 21.15 seconds, Dressel calmly warmed down, replenished and reset for his second of three finals on the evening.
"The NCAA championships are similiar to the schedule here so I was familiar with racing, cooling down, warming back up and mentally resetting," said Dressel, who has three 50 free NCAA titles; two 100 free NCAA titles and one 100 butterfly NCAA title for the University of Florida where he is finishing his junior year. "I have an algebra test on Tuesday (August 1), but my teachers bear with me. They know where I am."
As the packed swim arena awaited the Herculian effort of back-to-back finals on Saturday, Dressel blasted the start which was his mainstay for the entire week of competitions then held the pace through the second 50, where he has succumbed in previous world level races in the past.
"Most of the start work comes from our strength training," said Dressel. "It's not a large part of the whole race."
Dressel held his speed to the tune of the fastest second 50 split of 26.55 after an opening 50 meter split of 23.31, the fastest split of that segment.
Just an hour later, Dressel double-downed for a third final in less than four hours and was again on the pool deck with the mixed 4 x 100 free relay final with Dressel the leadoff leg ahead of Adrian, and women's Olympians Mallory Comerford and Simona Manuel to finish off the unique racing format. Dressel again crushed the field with a 47.22 leadoff split that was just over his 100 free American record of 47.17, set in the 100 free final on Thurs., July 27. Adrian came in at 47.49, Comerford at 52.71 and Manuel at 52.18 to reset the world mark with a 3:19.60 time; better than the 2015 world record of 3:23.05, held my the United States.
"I think I only had to run twice from the medal stands to the warmup and then to the deck," said Dressel. "You have take one swim at a time, enjoy the moment and then refocus very quickly; very quickly."
As the leadoff leg of the mens 4 x 100 medley relay final on Sun., July 30, Dressel's final swim of the week saw the 20 year old Clay High graduate finish with a 49.76 butterfly leg behind a leadoff backstroke leg from Matt Grevers, a breaststroke leg from Kevin Cordes and a anchor freestyle leg from Adrian to win in 3:27.91 and hold off Great Britain and Russia.