Olympics: Caeleb Dressel Scares Olympic Record as 50 Free Top Seed

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Caeleb Dressel (USA) after swimming in the men's 50m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports
Caeleb Dressel; Photo Courtesy: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Caeleb Dressel Scares Olympic Record as 50 Free Top Seed

In the 100 freestyle, it was Caeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers throwing down. In the 100 butterfly, the showdown looms between Dressel and Kristof Milak.

In the American superstar’s third and final individual event of these Tokyo Olympics, there’s no obvious foil for Dressel to joust with. Though given the nature of the splash and dash, that doesn’t mean the coronation is being planned just yet.

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC) in the men's 50m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Kliment Kolesnikov; Photo Courtesy: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports

Dressel looked comfortably ahead of the field in the prelims Friday night, tallying the fastest time by a full three-tenths in 21.32. He put a scare into the Olympic record, a 21.30 from Cesar Cielo that has held since 2008. He was easily ahead of the field without being pushed.

The more pressing matter for Dressel up ahead is Saturday morning’s daunting triple – the final of the men’s 100 fly, semis of the 50 free, a medal ceremony and then the mixed medley relay final, all of which he’s expected to take part in.

“I stay on routine as much as I can,” Dressel said. “I have done this before. It’s not easy. Every time is a little different. For the most part, I know somewhat what to expect emotionally, physically. I know how to do it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have it in pretty much the past four international meets I’ve swum. I know I’ll be good. It’ll be tough but I’m looking forward to it.”

Closest to Dressel in the heats were a trio of veterans separated by .01 each. Florent Manaudou of France was second in 21.66, followed by Greece’s Kristian Gkolomeev and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus. Speaking of veterans, Brent Hayden is in the final, qualifying eighth with a time of 21.85.

“It felt amazing and it was really special having my teammate Josh Liendo on my outside,” Hayden said. “… But also, having Bruno Fratus in Lane 4, he was one of the first guys that encouraged me to go on with this comeback, so I owe him a big part of this journey. I had fun and I’m satisfied with the time, but I’m going to go back home and think about how I can make it faster tomorrow.”

A surprise inclusion in the final is Ukraine’s Vladyslav Bukhov, who blasted a 21.73 from outside the circle-seeded heats to get into fifth. Kliment Kolesnikov and Vlad Morozov give the Russians two swimmers. Michael Andrew was fifth in the third-to-last heat but his time of 21.89 ended up getting him into the final comfortably in 21.89.

No big names missed the final. Cameron McEvoy was 29th, though he wasn’t expected to contend as he has in the past. Ditto (now Italian) Santo Condorelli in 19th.

Men’s 50 freestyle

  • World record: Cesar Cielo, Brazil, 20.91 (2009)
  • Olympic record: Cesar Cielo, Brazil, 21.30 (2008)
  1. Caeleb Dressel, United States, 21.32
  2. Florent Manaudou, France, 21.65
  3. Kristian Gkolomeev, Greece, 21.67
  4. Bruno Fratus, Brazil, 21.67
  5. Vladyslav Bukhov, Ukraine, 21.73
  6. Thom de Boer, Netherlands, 21.75
  7. Jesse Putz, Netherland, 21.84
  8. Brent Hayden, Canada, 21.75
  9. Lorenzo Zazzeri, Italy, 21.86
  10. Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia, 21.88
  11. Michael Andrew, United States, 21.89
  12. Vladimir Morozov, Russia, 21.92
  13. Ben Proud, Great Britain, 21.93
  14. Alberto Mestre, Venezuela, 21.96
  15. Maxime Grousset, France, 21.97
  16. Pawel Juraszek, Poland, 21.97