Dressel matches Phelps, closes worlds with seventh gold

BUDAPEST: Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri competes in the men’s 1500m freestyle final at the FINA World Championships.—AFP

BUDAPEST: Michael Phelps, you’ve got company.

Caeleb Dressel brought the curtain down on the world championships with an historic seventh gold medal in Budapest on Sunday, putting the US team ahead to stay with another dominating swim in the 4x100m medley relay.

Twenty-four hours after becoming the first swimmer to win three golds in one night at a major international meet, Dressel equalled the great Phelps’ feat of seven golds at the second-biggest meet after the Olympics.

Phelps was the first to do it at the 2007 worlds in Melbourne, Australia a prelude to his unprecedented eight golds the following year at the Beijing Olympics.

The 20-year-old Dressel matched the feat along the banks of the Danube, emerging as America’s next swimming sensation.

He also helped the US to record their best-ever world championship haul, with 38 medals — over five times more than nearest rivals Britain, who won seven.

However the enormity of the Florida student’s achievements had yet to fully sink in.

“I’ve never had it happen so I don’t really know what to say,” he told reporters. “I’m going to take a little break in Europe, go to Poland and Scotland and just enjoy myself.

“It was probably the most fun I’ve had in eight days. It was an absolute blast getting to do what I love.”

Team-mate Lilly King had kickstarted the evening in blistering style with a world-record time of 29.40 seconds in the women’s 50m breaststroke.

King beat Russian Yuilya Efimova to the wall by 0.17 seconds, with another American, Katie Meili taking bronze.

The atmosphere rose when Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu glided to gold in the women’s 400m individual medley, adding to her 200m medley title.

The 12,000-strong crowd roared Hosszu on to a championship record time of four minutes 29.33. Mireia Belmonte of Spain won silver, with Canadian Sydney Pickrem claiming bronze.

SARAH Sjostrom of Sweden celebrates after winning the women’s 50m freestyle final.—Reuters
SARAH Sjostrom of Sweden celebrates after winning the women’s 50m freestyle final.—Reuters

Chase Kalisz’s breaststroke leg in the men’s 400m individual medley also saw him land an individual medley double.

The American set a championship record of four minutes 5.90 seconds to become the third-fastest performer behind Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

David Verraszto of Hungary won silver, with Japan’s Daiya Seto securing bronze.

“Michael and Ryan are my idols so just to be behind them is cool for me to think about,” Kalisz told reporters.

Swedish sprint queen Sarah Sjostrom picked up her third sprint title in Budapest with victory in the women’s 50m freestyle final having set the world-record in the semis.

She also won the 50m and 100m butterfly finals and leaves Budapest with two world records after she became the first woman to swim the 100m freestyle under 52 seconds last Sunday.

The 23-year-old paced herself perfectly to hold off Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands in 23.69 seconds. Simone Manuel of the U.S. won bronze.

Sjostrom said: “It was a really good first 25m but the finish was really bad. But it doesn’t matter what time it is, the only thing that mattered was that gold.”

Camille Lacourt of France delivered the perfect hors d’oeuvre for his new life as a Paris restaurant owner by blazing his way to a hat-trick of men’s 50m backstroke world golds.

Lacourt, 32, bowed out of the sport in style as his 24.35 seconds saw off Japan’s Junya Koga and Matt Grevers of the US into the minor medals.

Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri pulled away from Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk over the final laps to win the men’s 1,500m freestyle.

Not to be outdone by the men, the US broke the world record in winning the women’s 4x100m medley relay as Manuel touched the wall at 3:51.55 minutes to break their own record set at the 2012 London Olympics.

That paved the way for the US relay men’s golden finale, with Britain finishing in silver 1.04 seconds behind.

In their dominating performance at the championships, the US claimed six of the 11 world records set in Budapest. Katie Ledecky, who did not swim on Sunday, finished as the leading female swimmer with her five gold medals and one silver. Manuel collected five golds and a bronze.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2017

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