Dressel wins again but no 6 golds; Ledecky 1st again in 800
Tokyo — Caeleb Dressel added a world record to his growing medal haul.
He won't be joining a very exclusive club, however.
Dressel's bid to win six gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics was over before he even dove into the pool for the new 4x100-meter mixed medley relay Saturday.
The Americans were too far behind when their top swimmer took over. The best Dressel could do was rally the U.S. to a fifth-place finish in the race that features two men and two women on each team.
Britain set a world record to win the gold.
It was a disappointing capper to a golden morning for the Americans, whose swimming stars both ascended to the top of the medal podium.
Dressel set a world record while winning his third gold of the games in the 100 butterfly. Katie Ledecky closed out her grueling Olympic program with a third straight victory in the 800 freestyle.
Ledecky was pushed hard by Australian rival Ariarne Titmus, but the American held on in a race she hasn't lost since 2010.
Ledecky finished up with two golds, two silver and a fifth-place finish at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre — not as successful as she was five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, but not bad at all.
Dressel led right from the start in the fly and held off Hungary’s Kristof Milak to touch in 49.45 seconds, breaking the mark of 49.50 that the American set at the 2019 world championships.
Milak, winner of the 200 fly, earned the silver with a blistering 49.68. The bronze went to Switzerland’s Noe Ponti.
When he saw the “WR” beside his name, Dressel smiled and joined hands with Milak in the lane next to him. They raised their arms together before Dressel flexed his left arm and pumped it in the air.
From the nearly empty stands, the cheers from Dressel's teammates rang through the arena. When he was announced as the Olympic champion, he raised his right arm again as he walked along the deck.
He didn't want to exert too much energy, not with two more races on his hectic schedule.
Ledecky became the first female swimmer to capture six individual gold medals in her career with another Olympic title in the 800 free, winning with a time of 8 minutes, 12.57 seconds .
Titmus closed strong to claim the silver in 8:13.83, while the bronze went to Italy’s Simona Quadarella in 8:18.35.
Ledecky lost her first two individual matchups with Titmus, but finally beat the Terminator in their final showdown.
“To be able to watch Katie actually race somebody this Olympics was really exciting,” American teammate Katie Grimes said. “We don’t get to see that very often.”
The Australian women did claim another gold.
Kaylee McKeown completed a sweep of the backstroke events with a victory in the 200 butterfly. Her winning time was 2:04.68.
The silver went to Canada’s Kylie Masse in 2:05.42, with another Australian, Emily Seebohm, claiming the bronze in 2:06.17.
Americans Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon finished fourth and fifth. The world-record holder, Regan Smith, stunningly failed to qualify for the event at the U.S. trials.
It's been a huge Olympics for the Aussie women. They have won six of their team's seven gold medals at the pool.
Just minutes after collecting his gold medal, Dressel hustled back to the deck for the semifinals of the 50 freestyle, where he set the top qualifying time of 21.42.
Capping things off, Dressel anchored the new mixed medley relay.
The Americans tried a different strategy than everyone else, going with Dressel on the freestyle while the other seven teams all closed with a woman.
It backfired badly for the U.S.
When 18-year-old Torri Huske passed off to Dressel after the butterfly leg, the Americans were more than 7 seconds behind the leaders in last place.
That was too daunting even for the world’s greatest male swimmer. Dressel turned in the fastest time, of course, but it wasn’t nearly enough to chase down all the teams ahead of him.
Britain claimed the gold with a world record of 3:37.58. The silver went to China in 3:38.86, while Australia took the bronze in 3:38.95.
The Americans were fifth in 3:40.58.
Dressel will take part in two more finals Sunday, the last day of the swimming competition at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Dressel was hoping to sweep his six events, which would have made him only the the fourth swimmer and fifth athlete overall to win six gold medals at a single Olympics.
Swimming icon Michael Phelps did it twice, capturing six golds at the 2004 Athens Games before setting the record with eight golds in Beijing four years later.
For Dressel, five is the best he can do now.