Atlanta Classic: Josh Liendo Tops Caeleb Dressel in 100 Fly; Kate Douglass Doubles

Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Atlanta Classic: Josh Liendo Tops Caeleb Dressel in 100 Fly; Kate Douglass Doubles

During Friday night’s session at the Atlanta Classic, Caeleb Dressel raced in his first final at any meet since winning a world title in the 50 butterfly last June. This time, though, Dressel could not keep pace with Josh Liendo, his training partner at the University of Florida and a rising international sprint star for Canada, as the two men raced in the 100 fly.

Liendo posted a mark of 51.79, six tenths clear of Dressel’s 52.41. Liendo built his lead on the opening length of the race, but Dressel did not fall further behind on the second 50. Liendo was about a second-and-a-half off the impressive Canadian record of 50.36 he set last month, a mark that moved him to fifth all-time in the event and first in the world this year, while Dressel was about three seconds off his world record of 49.45, set on his way to Olympic gold in Tokyo two years ago, but the time was plenty solid for his initial return to racing.

While Dressel’s return was the central story of Friday night, there were plenty of other quick performances from standout American performers. Kate Douglass was racing for the first time since her dominant NCAA Championships in March, where she established the fastest time in history in the 200-yard IM, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard breaststroke, and she won both of her races.

Douglass topped the women’s 100 breast in 1:07.07, which ranks third among Americans this year behind Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby and world-record holder Lilly King, and she returned 20 minutes later to win the 100 fly in 57.19. In the latter event, Douglass went head-to-head with Summer McIntosh, racing for the first time since her stunning Canadian Trials when she broke world records in the 400 free and 400 IM, and the 21-year-old American came out on top by seven tenths. Her 100 fly mark sits seventh in the world rankings and second among Americans behind Regan Smith’s 56.60 (although Torri Huske and Claire Curzan have yet to race the event in long course this year).

Katie Ledecky was in action in the women’s 200 free, and she recorded a mark of 1:55.63 to finish four seconds clear of another University of Florida-trainee, Isabel Ivey (1:59.60). Ledecky’s time was a bit off her season-best time of 1:54.96 from the TYR Pro Swim Series in Fort Lauderdale in March. Only McIntosh (1:53.91) has been quicker this year, but the world’s depth in the 200 free has reached an insane level, with seven others having broken 1:56 this year, including the Australian trio of (Mollie O’CallaghanAriarne Titmus and Shayna Jack) as well as the swimmer who finished second behind Titmus, Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey.

In the men’s 200 free, Kieran Smith won in 1:47.62 after notching a mark of 1:46.84 in prelims, which ranks in the top-20 globally and ranks second in the United States behind Drew Kibler’s 1:45.82 from a Sectionals meet in March. Two other swimmers who train at Florida finished just behind Smith: Jake Mitchell (1:48.09) and Alfonso Mestre (1:48.16).

Distance freestyle star Bobby Finke raced in that 200 free final, finishing sixth, and he came back later to comfortably win the 400 IM in 4:16.63. Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant swam a strong time of 4:39.32 in the 400 IM, just ahead of Mabel Zavaros (4:39.33). In the men’s 100 breast, Aleksas Savickas finished just ahead of Matt Fallon (1:01.80 to 1:01.92).

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