U.S. Olympic Trials: Caeleb Dressel Pops 50.17 in 100 Fly Heats; Second Spot Wide Open

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Just hours after finally securing his spot on his second Olympic team in the 100 freestyle last night, Caeleb Dressel put up the top time in the world in the 100 butterfly heats with a 50.17, passing Hungary’s Kristof Milak, who was a 50.18 at the European Championships in May. The second seed behind Dressel is a tie between Cal teammates Trenton Julian and Tom Shields (51.71) as Julian was fifth in the 200 fly earlier in the meet and Shields was seventh in Rio in this event.

Dressel unsurprisingly had the the fastest opening speed at 23.39 with Danny Kovac following him at 23.74, and John Shebat (23.91) and Shields (23.98) being the only others under 24 on the first 50. On the back 50, Dressel was again the quickest at 26.78, with Julian following him in 26.93, the only other one under 27.

Dressel’s time is the ninth fastest performance in the history of the event, and only two other men – Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic have been faster than that swim this morning. Is Dressel’s 49.50 world record under threat tomorrow night? Perhaps. But it may just wait until the Olympics.

The Race For Second

With scratches from Olympians Michael Andrew and Andrew Seliskar, who are focusing on the 200 IM final tonight, and Shaine Casas, who is in tonight’s 200 back final, this second spot behind Caeleb Dressel becomes wide open as five guys swam 51 highs – Julian, Shields, Missouri’s Kovac (51.73), Alabama’s Tyler Sesvold (51.83) and 200 fly Olympian for Tokyo Zach Harting (51.86).

Julian, whose best shot for Tokyo looked to be the 200 butterfly, dropped a huge best time from a non-seeded heat as he came in with a 53.31 best time and he is now the front runner to get the second spot in tomorrow night’s final behind Dressel.

Shields, 29, is searching for his second Olympic team spot as he has long been a member of the US national team, making two World Championship teams and also winning this event at the 2019 Pan American Games.

Harting has not been known to have the 100 speed to contend with the likes of Dressel and Shields, but he broke 52 seconds for the first time and could pick up a second event for Tokyo.

Kovac and Sesvold, both products of SEC schools, came in each with 52s as best times and will get a chance to race in tonight’s semi finals. Kovac was sixth at the 2019 Nationals in this event while Sesvold was 10th.

Luca Urlando, who was the favorite to make the team in the 200 butterfly after coming in with the top time on the psych sheet, is seeded eighth at 52.19 behind 2019 NCAA runner-up Coleman Stewart (52.12). Neither of them swam bests as Urlando came in at 52.04 and Stewart 52.11, but they advanced to tonight’s semi finals. Jack Conger, who finished fourth in this event at the 2016 Trials, is seeded ninth at 52.23, while Maxime Rooney, who came in to the meet as the second seed, is 11th at 52.30.


  1. Caeleb Dressel, 50.17
  2. Trenton Julian, 51.71
  3. Tom Shields, 51.71
  4. Danny Kovac, 51.73
  5. Tyler Sesvold, 51.83
  6. Zach Harting, 51.86
  7. Coleman Stewart, 52.12
  8. Luca Urlando, 52.19
  9. Jack Conger, 52.23
  10. Blake Manoff, 52.23
  11. Maxime Rooney, 52.30
  12. Miles Smachlo, 52.39
  13. Matthew Josa, 52.52
  14. Nick Albiero, 52.54
  15. Cody Bybee, 52.62
  16. John Shebat, 52.63

All-Time Performances:

  1. 49.50, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2019
  2. 49.66, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2019
  3. 49.82, Michael Phelps, USA, 2009
  4. 49.86, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2017
  5. 49.95, Milorad Cavic, SRB, 2009
  6. 50.01, Milorad Cavic, SRB, 2009
  7. 50.07, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2017
  8. 50.08, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2017
  9. 50.17, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2021
  10. 50.18, Kristof Milak, HUN, 2021