Another memorable evening at the Duna Arena, during the seventh day of the swimming finals at the FINA World Championships in Budapest (HUN)! And one protagonist, who made history: for the first time in a single session, a swimmer wins three gold medals! His name: Caeleb Dressel, from the USA. The 20-year-old North American easily won the 50m free, 100m butterfly, and led-off with success the US quartet in the mixed 4x100m free relay. Retain his name: Dressel will certainly be one of the stars to look in the future and the Tokyo 2020 Games seem to be the ideal moment to shine at Olympic level.
The fourth gold of the day for the USA came from Katie Ledecky, also easily triumphing in the women’s 800m free. The US great has now 14 gold medals at FINA World Championships (including five in Hungary).
The two non-American wins of the day were obtained by Sarah Sjostrom in the 50m butterfly, in a new Championships Record. Later in the evening, the Swedish champion established a new World Record in the semis of the 50m free, clocking 23.67.
Finally, Emily Seebohm (AUS) earned gold in the women’s 200m back, leaving Katinka Hosszu (HUN) with the silver, and the Hungarian crowd with a feeling of frustration…
Women’s 50m fly
In the first final of the day, Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) was clearly superior in the women’s 50m butterfly, getting the gold in a new Championships record of 24.60. The previous best mark of the competition had also been achieved by the Swedish great, two years ago in Kazan, in a time of 24.96. After Inge de Bruijn (NED) in 2001/2003, Sjostrom is the second swimmer to revalidate the title in this event. She is also the current WR holder, with a 24.43 effort from July 2014 in her country. Silver medallist in the 100m free and winner of the 100m fly in Budapest, Sjostrom was the only one in the field to swim under 25 seconds, with Ranomi Kromowidjojo, from the Netherlands, getting silver in 25.38 and Farida Osman, from Egypt, earning bronze in 25.39. It was the first medal-ever for the African country in the history of the World Championships (all disciplines and genders included). Osman had been fifth in Kazan 2015, while Kromowidjojo was bronze medallist four years ago in Barcelona.
Sjöström Sarah (SWE), gold WR
“I was very disappointed with my 100m free yesterday but I knew I had two more events to go. I felt really strong and I was looking forward to doing the 50s.”
“I know that I swim really well when I have a warm up race before. I got a really good start and I could feel I was swimming fast. It felt really good. I was just trying to make up for yesterday. I was keeping in mind the WR I did the first night in the relay.”
“I think I am one of the girls who took a big step in the 100m free this year. I spent more time practicing my technique.”
“I am very happy to hold the record in the 50 and all the rest of the four fastest events. I am the fastest swimmer in the world and I am very happy. Everyone thought that these records wouldn’t break after they remove the swimsuits but I did it!”
“I will still go with the same events for a few more years. I am only 24 years old!”
“The Americans (Katie and Caleb) are very impressive. I also watch Katie, even if I focus on my races. She is one-of-a-kind and Dressel took a really big step this year. It is cool to see.”
OSMAN Farida (EGY), bronze (African Record)
"I am very happy, I didn't expect such a great result. I thought I would swim as fast as I could and see where it would take me. This is what I did, I swam giving it all and I succeeded. I didn't pay attention to others, I had no clue which position I was at, I focused solely on my performance. Although I aimed at finishing on the podium, I must admit I am surprised that I managed to do so."
Men’s 50m free
Caeleb Dressel, from the United States, continues to reinforce his revelation status in Budapest, by getting the gold in the men’s 50m free, in a fast time of 21.15. Already the fastest of the semis, the 20-year-old North American swimmer accumulates now four titles in the Magyar capital: besides the 50m free, he was also champion in the 100m free, 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relay. He became the fourth swimmer in history to accumulate the 50m and 100m crowns in the same edition of the Championships, after Alexander Popov (RUS, 1994 and 2003), Anthony Ervin (USA, 2001) and Cesar Cielo (BRA, 2009). Bruno Fratus (third in Kazan 2015) gave Brazil the fifth medal in the swimming competition, touching for silver in 21.27. The bronze went to Ben Proud, of Great Britain, in 21.43, while 2013 silver medallist Vladimir Morozov (RUS) was this time fourth in 21.46. The World Record (20.91) holder Cielo, the second Brazilian of the final, had to content with the eighth and last position, in 21.83.
Caleb Dressel (USA), gold
“Being that close to something feels so good and it was unexpected. It is nice to be that close to the record.”
“50m fly doesn’t really exist in America; I don’t really train for a 50 fly.”
“Yes I was annoyed that I couldn’t look at the 800m. That would have been two nights in a row with three events. Too much. That’s not impossible but I am glad I didn’t. The best interest for team USA was not to swim it. I trust my coach on this.”
“Most of the start work comes from weight lifting. I am not doing anything specific and I don’t train this everyday. It comes naturally, from strength training. I try to be ahead in the start.” “A lot of people like to compare. I am not the same person as Michael Phelps. I just want to keep doing my own thing for this meet and for the future.”
“There is a lot of young talented guys in USA Swimming. Plenty talent to go around. It is not just all on me.”
“I am not sure what I expect for Tokyo 2020. I am focused on tomorrow and then we can think about Tokyo 2020.”
“After the medal ceremony, it is exciting when you have to run to another race. It is physically tiring and mental straining. You gotta take one swim at a time and recover fairly quickly.”
“I have a maths test in two days. It is tough to balance college and competition and training. I do the best I can. I have been busy but I have tried to study.”
FRATUS Bruno (BRA), silver
"I have become a real 'silver man' here in Budapest, after the relay now I have claimed another medal of this shade. I cannot even recall the last time I was feeling so good in the pool, probably it has been the best week of my life and the two best races of my career so far. It feels great to see all the hard work paying off. I believe in myself, I work hard at trainings and swimming means a lot more to me now than ever. In a World Championships final I finally managed to improve my personal best after attempting to do so for two years, I couldn't be happier."
PROUD Benjamin (GBR), bronze
"It wasn't too hard, same as the other days. I was just trying to forget the whole situation and do a perfect swim. I wanted to put myself in to the best position I could and I really showed off. I did everything I could, so I'm very happy with the result. The crowd is one of the best in the world. Not often you get such a special atmosphere when you are swimming. "
Women’s 200m back
With Katinka Hosszu (HUN) swimming in lane 1, the Duna Arena almost came down to support her, but the crowd’s help was not enough to make the Magyar star swim faster. In the end, Emily Seebohm, from Australia, revalidated her 2015 world title in 2:05.68, with Hosszu (runner-up at the Rio 2016 Olympics and bronze medallist two years ago in Russia) getting the silver in 2:05.85. It’s the 12th world medal for the Magyar great, who now accumulates six gold, one silver and five bronze. In third, Kathleen Baker (USA, 2:06.48) completed the podium. The North American was silver in the 100m back here in Budapest, after being also second at the Rio Games. Baker’s achievement also represents the eighth consecutive medal for US in this event, since 2003.
Seebohm Emily (AUS), gold
“It was really hard for me after Rio. A lot was going on in my body. I took a little bit of a break. And now I am very amazed to see what I have been able to achieve. To get over Rio took me a while but I knew my feelings came from my illness not because I didn’t what to swim. The support I had around me - Mitch, my parents, my friends and Mitch’s parents –no one put pressure on me but supported me so much. They were telling me to do what makes me happy.”
“When I was coming home after training session I had to lay down all day in my bed and couldn’t move until the next session. And I think that’s why I was unhappy because I couldn’t (horse) ride and do the other stuff that make me happy.”
“What I did last year helped a lot with my preparation. I was feeling better in my body and inside my head. I am so proud of what I have overcome (her illness). I was here to swim my best and it’s just has good as getting a gold medal. Saying that it is so amazing to get a gold medal. We just need to do our best, that’s the Australian way I guess.”
“Hearing the crowd pushed me today because I understood Hosszu was close to me. It helped me to give more than I thought I had left.”
“Our physio and team here is amazing. I don’t think I could have done what I did today without them. You know I get treatment twice a day…”
“I am taking each year that comes and I am really excited about the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. I don’t know what will come in three year’s time but I hope my body can hold until Tokyo 2020 to make my fourth Olympics. You will see me at the Swimming World Cup too.”
HOSSZU Katinka (HUN), silver
"I wanted to claim a medal today madly, so I am really happy about the silver. I planned to get the advantage at the beginning and see what happened. Although I could not see Seebohm from lane 1, but I knew she was coming, what is more, in the final sprint she was in fact faster, yet I am not disappointed at all. I managed to improve my personal best which I am really happy, especially in light of my somewhat weaker performance of yesterday. Although there is still a lot to improve about my movements, I should not be disappointed about my performance."
Men’s 100m fly
Caeleb Dressel (USA) continued to make history at the FINA World Championships, with another impressive victory in the 100m fly. He becomes the only swimmer in history to have won this event and the 100m free final in the same edition of the Championships. Touching gold in 49.86, he was 0.04 slower than the impressive World Record from Michael Phelps, established in Rome 2009. Dressel clearly dominated operations in the pool, with silver medallist (surprising Kristof Milak, from Hungary), arriving almost one second later, in 50.62. Joseph Schooling (SGP), who had won in an outstanding way this event in Rio 2016, leaving Phelps, Le Clos (eliminated in the semis in Budapest) and Laszlo Cseh (fifth of the final) with a shared silver medal, was this time the one dividing his bronze medal, with James Guy, from Great Britain. Both athletes touched in 50.83. Dressel, turning 21 on August 16, will definitively be the athlete to watch in the future and his performances in the Magyar capital are a good anticipation of what he can do at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. In Rio, last summer, he won two gold, but in relay events, the 4x100m free and 4x100m medley.
MILAK Kristof (HUN), silver
"I am speechless right now. I saw Dressel swimming beside me, it is crazy I could keep up with him in the first leg without much effort really. Then in the second half I started speeding up at an extent which was incredible for me as well. I had a feeling that it would end in a good time result but I didn't think it would be so outstanding."
SCHOOLING Joseph, bronze
"It was a fantastic swim, a very close race, the Hungarian guy did an excellent job so I feel lucky to have finished third in the end. Last year at the Olympics it was my great debut on the international stage, now Kristóf Milák took the floor. His time result is fantastic, I believe he has a bright future to come. By the way, my motivation doesn't decrease when I see others exceeding me. On the contrary, it encourages me to do better. This is the beginning of a new Olympic cycle, I guess I could have claimed a better position if I had managed to focus on this heat properly. I don't know why I didn't manage to do so."
GUY James (GBR), bronze
"It was a pretty good swim today! As I’m a little bit tired of the relay last night, which was a highlight and I could not sleep enough, the bronze medal is pretty good for me."
Women’s 800m free
Katie Ledecky (USA), once more, swam a solitary race, to get her 14th gold at the FINA World Championships, this time in the 800m free. The North American great touched for victory in 8:12.68, approximately eight seconds slower than her World Record of 8:04.79, set at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In the Magyar capital, this is the fifth triumph for Ledecky, after previous successes in the 400m and 1500m free, 4x100m free and 4x200m free relay. She was also silver medallist in the 200m free, behind Federica Pellegrini (ITA). Moreover, this is the third consecutive world crown for the North American in this event, after the 2013 and 2015 titles. With the gold settled, the minor medals went to Li Bingjie (CHN), in 8:15.46 – her first individual podium presence at this level, after being second in the 4x200m free relay -, and to Leah Smith, also from the United States in 8:17.22. Smith had been third in the 400m free at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Mireia Belmonte (ESP), the world champion in the 200m fly in Budapest, had to content with the fourth place in 8:23.30.
LEDECKY Katie (USA), gold
“My goal is to go out there and win the gold for USA.”
“I am happy with my gold medals but there is always room for improvement. My time wasn’t as fast as I have been in the past. You take it and it was the end of a long week with lots of ups and downs.”
“It’s pretty tiring to swim so many events in a week but I am happy how I bounce back from a race to another and I was happy with how it all went.” “I am sure that the schedule will look different at the Olympics. There are so many factor to swim such a big programme like this week.”
“I don’t train massively differently for the different distance. I just to work on my body and some days are shorter than others and sometimes I feel like swimming faster. It is not easy.”
“I stay motivated by the people I prepare with, my family, my friends, my teammates, my coach. I am now competition for my college to. I am always working something towards something. Now that I have one year in Standford I can see the experience I have gained. I can set some heavy goals for the future.”
“I am trying to take care of business outside the pool too. I keep communicate with my professor, I do my homework. We all challenge each other and we’re all in the same boat. It is a very inspiring environment to be in at Standford. It is important to manage your time the best you can and form strong relationships with your professor and your teammates, classmates. Not be afraid to ask for help.”
“I am not going to venture in open water!”
LI Bingjie (CHN), silver
"I didn't expect to reach to the top international filed of swimmers and make it to the podium in such a short time. I didn't anticipate clinching silver at all. It was amazing to swim as the runner up to the best freestyle swimmer lady, Katie Ledecky. I planned to follow her closely all throughout the heat and luckily I managed to do so. In the meantime I was looking right and left to see how others were doing. I am absolutely satisfied with the result and I am extremely exhausted. I am still young, I wish to keep improving. My future plans include finishing on the podium at the Olympics once."
Mixed 4x100m free relay
And the third gold medal of the day for Caeleb Dressel – an unprecedented feat in the history of the World Championships – came in the mixed 4x100m free relay, where the North American led-off the quartet for a final winning time of 3:19.60, the second World Record of the day. The previous global mark had been achieved in Kazan 2015, also by the USA in 3:23.05. Dressel swam the first 100m in an excellent time of 47.22, and then was followed by Nathan Adrian, Mallory Commerford and Simone Manuel. The US team did all the race in the lead, winning the fourth gold of the day out of the six finals contested at the Duna Arena. The Netherlands had to settle for silver in 3:21.81 (also under the former WR), while Canada got the bronze in 3:23.55.
In semi-final action, it will be a thrilling final in the women’s 50m breaststroke, with the medals to be contested, most probably, by this quartet: Lilly King (USA, 29.60), Yulia Efimova (RUS, 29.73), Katie Meili (USA, 30.12), and Ruta Meilutyte (LTU, 30.40). In the women’s 50m free, the discussion for the gold seems to be simple, with Sarah Sjostrom establishing a new World Record of 23.67, and improving the 8-year-old mark of Britta Steffen (GER), who had clocked 23.73 in Rome 2009. Finally, in the men’s 50m back, Camille Lacourt (FRA) has so far the advantage, qualifying first for the decisive race in 24.30. He is followed by Junya Koga (JPN, 24.44) and Matt Grevers (USA, 24.65).