US Olympic Trials: Caeleb Dressel Swims Third Fastest 100 Fly Ever in Semifinals – 49.76

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Caeleb Dressel Swims Third Fastest 100 Fly Ever in Semifinals – 49.76

Caeleb Dressel showed no ill effects of a euphoric hangover from making the Olympic team last night in the 100 freestyle, following his swim with a 49.76 in the 100 butterfly – the third fastest swim in history in the event. Dressel ranks only behind himself on the all-time performances list as this is his fourth time under the 50 second barrier.

Dressel was out in 23.31, a little faster than his morning opening 50 at 23.39, and five tenths slower than his world record pace of 22.83, but he came back much quicker on the back 50 with a 26.45, which was nearly a second faster than the next fastest second 50 – Trenton Julian’s 27.19. This morning he came back in a 26.78 to break the US Open record that Michael Phelps set at the 2009 Nationals that was the world record at the time. Tonight, he re-broke that record, and distanced himself in the world rankings from Hungary’s Kristof Milak, who was a 50.18 at the European Championships in May.

“I just wanted to control it,” Caeleb Dressel said. “I believe I was actually out the same as this morning. I want to get that race as technically sound as I can to make the team… I’m happy with tonight for sure, but I’ve still got to clean up some stuff.”


Tom Shields. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Dressel will garner lane four in tomorrow night’s final as 2016 Olympian Tom Shields is behind him in second at 51.20.

This is Shields’ fastest time in the 100 butterfly since the 2016 Olympics as his three best times came from the 2015 Worlds – his best a 51.03. Shields has been open about his mental health issues, opening up about a suicide attempt from late 2018, and his swimming has improved. Earlier this year, his 51.55 in May was his fastest in-season time of his career, and he is looking like the top pick to make his second Olympic team at age 29 after getting seventh in Rio in this event.

“I was just trying not to look at Caeleb too much,” Shields said. “I’ve been working on that a long time, and I’m not good at it. I was trying to set up the first 50 well and just trying to carry that rhythm off the wall. I don’t think I did that super well tonight.”


Caeleb Dressel checks out the scoreboard for the 100 butterfly. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Coleman Stewart, who finished eighth in the 100 free final earlier in the week, is seeded third at 51.54 as this is his last gasp to get on the team after looking like a contender for the 4×100 free relay. Missouri’s Danny Kovac improved on his best time with a very strong 51.61, taking out his semifinal with a 23.93 on the front 50 and coming home in a 27.68 to grab the fourth seed. Kovac was a member of the 2018 Junior Pan Pacs team where he was ninth in the 100 butterfly.

“The 100 fly is really kind of a surprise event for me,” Kovac said. “I didn’t think I would be in contention this morning, especially to be around all these great 100 flyers…I’m kind of still working on a race plan. Take it out at a comfortable speed and come back the best that I can.”

200 fly finalists Trenton Julian (51.70), Luca Urlando (51.77) and Zach Harting (51.99) each got under 52 seconds in the semifinals as this is Urlando’s first time under 52, while Julian improved on his best from this morning by 0.01. Julian has a chance to become a second generation Olympian after his mother Kristine Quance raced in the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Harting is already on the team in the 200 butterfly, while Urlando was a devastating third place in that event on Wednesday night as he came in as the pre-meet favorite to win the event.

Alabama’s Tyler Sesvold is the eighth seed for tomorrow at 52.06 after coming in with a 51.83 in the heats. He finished ahead of 2016 Trials finalist Jack Conger, who was on the Olympic team in Rio for the 4×200 free relay but will not be back in Tokyo. Conger finished ninth at 52.19. Another big miss from the final was Maxime Rooney (52.64), who had the second fastest time in the world in the 100 butterfly in 2019 and looked to be poised to make a run at the 2020 Games after having such a storied high school career where he was the world junior champ in the 200 freestyle in 2015.


  1. Caeleb Dressel, 49.76
  2. Tom Shields, 51.20
  3. Coleman Stewart, 51.54
  4. Danny Kovac, 51.61
  5. Trenton Julian, 51.70
  6. Luca Urlando, 51.77
  7. Zach Harting, 51.99
  8. Tyler Sesvold, 52.06
  9. Jack Conger, 52.19
  10. Miles Smachlo, 52.25
  11. John Shebat, 52.28
  12. Maxime Rooney, 52.64
  13. Nick Albiero, 52.76
  14. Cody Bybee, 52.78
  15. Matthew Austin, 53.03
  16. Blake Manoff, 53.32

All-Time Performances:

  1. 49.50, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2019
  2. 49.66, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2019
  3. 49.76, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2021
  4. 49.82, Michael Phelps, USA, 2009
  5. 49.86, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2017
  6. 49.95, Milorad Cavic, SRB, 2009
  7. 50.01, Milorad Cavic, SRB, 2009
  8. 50.07, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2017
  9. 50.08, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2017
  10. 50.17, Caeleb Dressel, USA, 2021

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Izak Hattingh
3 years ago

Mandy Hattingh
Izak Hattingh Jnr

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