Olympics: On Collision Course, Caeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers Handle Business in 100 Freestyle Prelims

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Caeleb Dressel (USA) after the men's 100m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: On Collision Course, Caeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers Handle Business in 100 Freestyle Prelims

The most-anticipated duel of the men’s program at the Olympic Games in Tokyo has started to unfold, as the 100-meter freestyle jumpstarted competition on the fourth evening of action. The event has long been awaited for the clash between reigning Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia and the United States’ Caeleb Dressel, the back-to-back world titlist.

While Italian Thomas Ceccon led the way into the semifinals with a mark of 47.71, Dressel and Chalmers did what was required to reach the semifinals. Dressel checked in with the second-fastest time of prelims, an effort of 47.73, while Chalmers touched in 47.77 for the third seed in the semifinals. Once the final rolls around, Dressel and Chalmers are expected to engage in a head-to-head showdown that will threaten the world record of 46.91, on the books to Brazilian Cesar Cielo since 2009.

Dressel and Chalmers were each making their individual debuts of the Games, following their participation in the 400 freestyle relay. In that relay, Dressel led off for the United States, which secured the gold medal, while Chalmers anchored Australia to the bronze medal.

“Everyone’s just playing games and I’m one of them, so I can’t really say anything other than that,” Chalmers said. “”It’s good to tick the box. Tomorrow morning is going to be a big one with the semifinal and the 4×2 (relay) at the end of the program. I’ve just got to get through the rounds, conserve as much energy as I can, sleep well tonight.”

“Racing is racing,” Dressel said. I know what my job is as soon as I hit the water, so it’s really not different if it’s the relay or the individual. It’s tough watching events go when you’re sitting there waiting for your chance, so I’m glad I was somewhat at the beginning of the meet.”

Six athletes broke the 48-second barrier in the prelims, including Italy’s Alessandro Miressi in 47.83 and Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov in 47.89. Kolesnikov was coming off a silver-medal finish in the 100 backstroke from the morning. Qualifying in sixth was Korea’s Sunwoo Hwang, who went 47.97.

The event became even more intriguing earlier this month when Romania’s David Popovici, a 16-year-old phenom, won gold at the European Junior Championships and posted the fastest time in the world at 47.30. In prelims, Popovici comfortably advanced in the eighth position, as his mark of 48.03 was just behind the 48.00 of Russia’s Andrei Minakov.


Men’s 100 Freestyle

World Record: Cesar Cielo, Brazil, 46.91 (2009)
Olympic Record: Eamon Sullivan, Australia, 47.05 (2008)


1. Thomas Ceccon (Italy) 47.71
2. Caeleb Dressel (United States) 47.73
3. Kyle Chalmers (Australia) 47.77
4. Alessandro Miressi (Italy) 47.83
5. Kliment Kolesnikov (Russia) 47.89
6. Sunwoo Hwang (Korea) 47.97
7. Andrei Minakov (Russia) 48.00
8. David Popovici (Romania) 48.03
9. Nandor Nemeth (Hungary) 48.11
10. Yuri Kisil (Canada) 48.15
11. Zach Apple (United States) 48.16
12. Maxime Grousset (France) 48.25
13. Andrej Barna (Serbia) 48.30
14. Joshua Liendo (Canada) 48.34
15. Roman Mityukov (Switzerland) 48.43
16. Jacob Whittle (Great Britain) 48.44