Dressel books 50m free Olympic title defense

The seven-time Olympic gold medallist is returning after stepping away from the sport in 2022

Afp June 23, 2024


Caeleb Dressel shook off his doubts and booked a chance to defend his 50m freestyle Olympic title in Paris with a victory on Friday at the US Olympic swimming trials.

Dressel, whose five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 included the 50m and 100m free and 100m fly, booked his first individual swim in Paris after missing out with a third-place finish in the 100m free.

The victory capped a long, often rocky road back to the top for the seven-time Olympic gold medallist, who stepped away from the sport abruptly in 2022.

Dressel looked in vintage form at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, exploding off the blocks to win the 50 free in 21.41sec.

The time makes him the fourth-fastest in the world this year, a list led by Australian Cameron McEvoy.

"I knew it was one of my toughest nights," said Dressel, who would return to top the times in the 100m butterfly semi-finals in 50.79sec.

"(I was) not feeling great or anything special, so I just had to gut it out tonight."

With his wife, Meghan, celebrating in the stands with their four-month-old son, August, in her arms, Dressel checked the 50m free scoreboard and gave a mighty fist pump before acknowledging the crowd.

Chris Guiliano, winner of the 100m free and runner-up in the 200m free this week, was second in 21.69 -- with Matt King shut out of the Olympic berths by an agonizing one-hundredth of a second as he finished third in 21.70.

Dressel, 27, said his relaxed demeanor on deck in Indianapolis has belied some tense moments behind the scenes.

"There's parts of this meet, I've had some very low lows," he said. "There's parts in my hotel room that aren't on camera, talking with my wife, talking with my therapist -- it has not been smooth sailing this whole meet." 


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