GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA – America swimmer Caeleb Dressel capped off his week at the FINA Swimming World Championship with a male Swimmer of the Meet honor after coming home with a world record, a handful of American and meet records, six gold medals and two silver medals to become the most prolific swimmer in history at the meet.
Dressel, a Clay High School graduate and multiple state swim champion, would have had nine medals from the 2019 FINA Swimming World Championships in South Korea this week after a spectacular butterfly leg in the medley relay put the American mens team in first place, but Olympic sprint specialist Nathan Adrian could not hold off Great Britain’s Duncan Scott in the final 100 freestyle anchor leg as the United States team took silver.
“We now know where we have to work to be better,” said leadoff leg backstroker Ryan Murphy, in a post race interview. “We will be better.”
Murphy, a two time Olympic gold medalist in backstroke, finished with just an individual silver medal in the 200 backstroke and two fourths; in the 50 and 100 backstrokes.
Dressel was also named the male Swimmer of the Meet with Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjostrom taking the female award.
For his medal grab, Dressel won gold in the 50 fly, the 50 free, the 100 fly and the 100 free with golds in the Mixed 4 x 100 free relay in a world record time and gold in the 4 x 100 free relay in a meet record time. The silver medals came in the 400 medley relay and the Mixed 4 x 100 medley relay where Dressel scorched the butterfly leg in a mismatch against two female swimmers before giving American freestyler Simone Manuel, who won gold in the 50 and 100 freestyle races, a nearly one second lead only to finish second behind Australia’s Cate Campbell. Campbell was third to Manuel in the 50 free final and second in the 100 free.
Dressel won seven gold medals at the 2017 FINA Swimming World Championships in Budapest to tie the seven medal record held by Phelps (twice), Australian Michael Klim and American Matt Biondi.
In South Korea, Dressel broke Phelps’ longstanding record in the 100 butterfly while narrowly missing world marks in all three of his other individual golds including the 100 freestyle record of 46.91 where Dressel won gold at 46.96 in the semifinal.
“It’s something very special, I thought I could do, but thank you Michael Phelps for setting the challenge for all the swimmers after you,” said Dressel, in a post race interview on NBCSports after his record setting 100 butterfly. “I thought it was my time to do it and I went for it.”
Phelps put a message to Dressel on Instagram afterward.
“Many congrats to [Caeleb Dressel]!! So sick to watch your starts, turns, under water, and of course your stroke!” Phelps added after, “Swimming super fast this week! Finish strong!”
Dressel’s gold in the 50 butterfly was the first time an American swimmer won world championship gold in that event.
“I’m glad to be the first,” said Dressel. “I did not know that.”
In an historic one-day performance on the penultimate day of competition on Sat., July 27, Dressel won gold in the 50 free in a near world record 21.04 seconds; 21.08 the record, then, about an hour late, won the 100 butterfly in 49.66 after he had broken Phelps’ record in the semifinals with a 49.50 before returning to the pool about two hours later to leadoff the American 4 x 100 freestyle relay to a world record gold medal in 3:19.40. Dressel opened the relay with a 47.34 split.
In the 100 freestyle final just two days prior, Dressel won gold in 46.96 over Kyle Chalmers of Australia whom Dressel had never previously beaten in a freestyle race.
Dressel and the American swimmers take a few days to recharge and return to the United States to compete in the 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships at Stanford University starting on July 31. Dressel is heat sheeted to swim in the 200 freestyle; ranked fourth, and the 200 individual medley; ranked 12th, as well as his other specialties.