Swim­mer Dres­sel wins record 3 golds at worlds

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

The Univer­sity of Florida stu­dent — yep, he’s got an al­ge­bra exam com­ing up Mon­day that he’ll be tak­ing on­line — has won six golds medals in Bu­dapest.

That gives him a shot at mov­ing into more rar­i­fied ter­ri­tory: Phelps is the only swim­mer to win seven golds at a world cham­pi­onships, which he did at Mel­bourne in 2007 as a pre­lude to his record eight golds the fol­low­ing year at the Bei­jing Olympics.

Dres­sel will be a vir­tual lock to win his sev­enth when he com­petes on the 4x100 med­ley re­lay Sun­day, the fi­nal event of the cham­pi­onships.

Again, those com­par­isons to Phelps.

“It’s a tough ques­tion,” Dres­sel said. “I don’t know if I wel­come them. But I know they’re go­ing to come. I don’t think it puts any pres­sure on me. I just want to keep do­ing my thing at this meet and for the fu­ture.”

Phelps was cer­tainly im­pressed.

He texted his con­grat­u­la­tions shortly af­ter Dres­sel led off a world-record per­for­mance in the 4x100-me­ter mixed freestyle re­lay, cap­ping a night that also in­cluded vic­to­ries in the 50 free and the 100 but­ter­fly.

“This kid is on fire!!” Phelps wrote on In­sta­gram, in­clud­ing a pic­ture of him cel­e­brat­ing with Dres­sel dur­ing a gold medal-win­ning re­lay they were both on last sum­mer at the Rio Olympics. “So damn fun to watch buddy!!!!”

Dres­sel started the night with a fu­ri­ous dash from one end of the pool to the other, adding the 50 free world ti­tle to the 100 free he al­ready had. He came back about a half-hour later to nearly break Phelps’ world record in the 100 fly, post­ing a time of 49.86 that was just four-hun­dredths off the mark set in 2009 at the rub­ber suit-aided cham­pi­onships in Rome.

The fi­nal re­lay was merely a coro­na­tion, the Amer­i­cans romp­ing to gold in 3 min­utes, 19.60 sec­onds — eclips­ing by nearly 31/ sec­onds the mark they set two years ago at worlds.

“Man, that was a lot of fun,” Dres­sel said.

He even man­aged to over­shadow Katie Ledecky, who won her fifth gold medal of the meet by cruis­ing to vic­tory in the 800 free. Yet Bu­dapest will be re­mem­bered as bit of a dis­ap­point­ment for the star of the 2016 Sum­mer Games, who set­tled for sil- ver in the 200 free and didn’t come close to break­ing any of her per­sonal bests.

Ledecky won in 8:12.68, which was nearly 8 sec­onds off her world record at Rio de Janeiro.

“I’ve never walked away from a sea­son com­pletely sat­is­fied, even last year,” she said. “I can re­ally take what I’ve learned and use it mov­ing for­ward. It gets me re­ally ex­cited. If that was my bad year for the next four years, then the next cou­ple years are go­ing to be pretty ex­cit­ing.”

Swe­den’s Sarah Sjostrom was an­other stand­out, bounc­ing back from a dis­ap­point­ing loss the pre­vi­ous night to win gold in the 50 fly and set a world record in the semi­fi­nals of 50 free. Her time of 23.67 broke the mark of 23.73, set in 2009 by Britta St­ef­fen.

It was Sjostrom’s sec­ond world record of the meet. She es­tab­lished a new stan­dard in the 100 free while swim­ming the lead­off leg of the 4x100 free re­lay.

But even the Swedish star took note of Dres­sel’s per­for­mance.

“I don’t even know if he went to the Olympics last year,” she said. “He took a re­ally big step this year as we can see. It’s re­ally im­pres­sive, re­ally cool to see.”

In­deed, Dres­sel has emerged as the break­out per­former of th­ese cham­pi­onships, with a bit of help from the rel­a­tively new mixed re­lays. Two of his golds came in events that fea­ture men and women on the same team, races Phelps never com­peted in at worlds.

“It’s crazy,” Dres­sel said. “But I had mixed re­lays help­ing me out, so it’s a bit dif­fer­ent.” Yet no less im­pres­sive. Dres­sel led off the mixed free re­lay with blis­ter­ing time of 47.22 for the first 100 — even more re­mark­able given what he’d al­ready been through — and his three team­mates — Nathan Adrian, Mal­lory Comer­ford and Si­mone Manuel — took it from there.

“That last re­lay was a lot of fun,” Dres­sel said. “I wanted to lead it off even though it meant less to get ready for it. It was such a blast.” The whole night was. “I haven’t had much time to think,” Dres­sel said, pon­der­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of it all. “As phys­i­cally de­mand­ing as it is, men­tally it’s even more strain­ing. So I have 24 hours un­til my next swim. I’ll give my­self 30 min­utes tonight to, I guess, let it sink in a bit, then it’s time to re­fo­cus for that re­lay to­mor­row.”

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