Olympics: Kliment Kolesnikov Posts 47.11 in 100 Free Semis; Caeleb Dressel Wins SF1 in 47.23

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC) reacts after placing second in the men's 100m backstroke final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports

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Olympics: Kliment Kolesnikov Posts European Record of 47.11 in 100 Free Semis; Caeleb Dressel Wins SF1 in 47.23

The United States’ Caeleb Dressel put up his fastest time — and the fastest time — of 2021 in the first semifinal of the 100 free as he cruised into the wall in 47.23, but Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov actually swam faster in the second semifinal heat to book lane four for Thursday’s final of the blue-ribband event. Kolesnikov blasted out in 22.52, a bit ahead of Dressel’s 22.55 midway split, and he accelerated down the stretch to finish in 47.11. That swim moved Kolesnikov up from 11th to eighth all-time in the event.

Kolesnikov broke the official European record of 47.12 held by France’s Alain Bernard. Although Bernard did swim a bit quicker with a 46.94, that time is not the official record because he was wearing an early version of a polyurethane suit that was not approved for competition. However, Bernard does rank second all-time in the event.

Kolesnikov, who already captured silver behind countryman Evgeny Rylov in the 100 back, looks like a real threat to dethrone Dressel in this signature event. Dressel will be next to Kolesnikov in lane five, and he will actually be aiming for his first individual Olympic medal. He previously finished sixth in the 100 free in Rio before his career breakthrough occurred one year later at the 2017 World Championships.

Could we be on world record watch for the final? Cesar Cielo’s global mark of 46.91 has stood since the suit era of 2009, and Dressel missed it by just 0.05 when he held off 2016 Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers for gold at the finish. Dressel will certainly be gunning for that mark with more in the tank for the next swim, but Kolesnikov looked like he eased off the throttle in the last five meters as well. So we’ll see what the final has in store when these two go head to head.

“There’s a difference between pressure and stress,” Dressel said of the weight of expectations. “Pressure is fun, stress is something you can do to yourself, so I’ve got better at dealing with pressure and not turning it into stress, and that’s when it becomes real fun.”

Italy’s Alessandro Miressi finished second to Dressel in their heat and ended up third overall in 47.52, just ahead of South Korea’s Hwang Sun-Woo. Hwang went out extremely fast in the 200 free final Tuesday before fading badly down the stretch, but he put up an Asian record of 47.56 to qualify fourth. World-junior-record holder David Popovici of Romania qualified fifth in 47.72, well off his top mark of 47.30, but he exploded in the 200 free final to finish just off the podium, so expect a big swim from Popovici out of lane two in the final.

“It’s going to be a huge fight,” Kolesnikov said. “Everyone is going to swim their best I think: now everyone swims under 48 seconds which over the last few years is huge progress.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s Chalmers will aim to defend his gold medal out of lane seven, and he has a real chance to do just that. Chalmers swam a 47.80, cutting it closer than he would have liked to get into the final, but he was likely conserving energy for the upcoming 800 free relay, which he will lead off for Australia less than two hours after that semifinal.

Hungary’s Nemeth Nandor (47.81) and France’s Maxime Grousset (47.82) claimed the outside lanes for the final, barely knocking out Serbia’s Andrej Barna (47.94). Russia’s Andrei Minakov (48.03) and American Zach Apple (48.04) were also on the outside looking in.

Finalists:

  1. Kliment Kolesnikov (Russia), 47.11
  2. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 47.23
  3. Alessandro Miressi (Italy), 47.52
  4. Hwang Sun-Woo (South Korea), 47.56
  5. David Popovici (Romania), 47.72
  6. Kyle Chalmers (Australia), 47.80
  7. Nemeth Nandor (Hungary), 47.81
  8. Maxime Grousset (France), 47.82

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