TOKYO (AP) — Caeleb Dressel won his fourth gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics with a victory in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday.
Dressel cruised to a relatively easy win in the frenetic dash from one end of the pool to the other, touching in an Olympic record of 21.07 seconds.
Dressel swept the 50 and 100 freestyle races, to along with a world-record triumph in the 100 butterfly and a leg on the winning U.S. team in the 4×100 free relay.
A few minutes after Dressel climbed from the pool, Australia’s Emma McKeon completed her own freestyle sweep. She touched in 23.81 seconds to take the women’s 50 free, adding to her victory in the 100 and her sixth medal overall at these games.
France’s Florent Manaudou finished behind Dressel to repeat as the Olympic silver medalist in 21.55, while Brazil’s Bruno Fratus claimed the bronze in 21.57 — edging American Michael Andrew for the final spot on the podium.
In the ready room shortly before the race, Dressel paced back and forth anxiously while most of the other swimmers relaxed in their chairs.
Then, he was cool as can be in swimming’s most furious lap. Popping up from the water with the lead, as is always the case with his impeccable underwater technique, Dressel was clearly in front all the way in a race that is often too close to call.
Dressel has one more shot at a gold in the 4×100 medley relay, an event the United States has never lost at the Olympics. He’ll swim the butterfly leg in a race that caps nine days of swimming competition at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
If Dressel claims a fifth victory, he would join Americans Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi, as well as East Germany’s Kristin Otto, as the only swimmers to win as many as five golds at a single Olympics. Phelps did it three times.
McKeon also has a shot at history after winning with an Olympic-record time of 23.81.
The silver went to Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström in 24.07, while defending Olympic champion Pernille Blume of Denmark settled for bronze this time in 24.21.
American Abbey Weitzeil finished last in the eight-woman field.
McKeon has a chance to earn her seventh medal in the 4×100 medley relay. No female swimmer has ever captured that many at a single games.
Paul Newberry is an Atlanta-based national writer and sports columnist covering his 14th Olympics. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
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