Golden dash: Dressel claims 4th gold, 7 medals for McKeon

Caeleb Dressel, of United States, celebrates winning the gold medal the men's 50-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

Caeleb Dressel, of United States, celebrates winning the gold medal the men's 50-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Jae C. Hong, Associated Press)


8 photos

TOKYO — Securing his place as one of the biggest stars of the Tokyo Olympics, Caeleb Dressel won his fourth gold medal with a victory in the 50-meter freestyle Sunday.

Australia's Emma McKeon left quite a mark, too.

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.

When the 24-year-old Floridian saw his time and, more important, the "1" beside his name, he splashed the water and flexed his bulging arms.

Dressel swept the 50 and 100 freestyle races, to go along with a world-record triumph in the 100 butterfly and a leg on the winning U.S. team in the 4x100 free relay.

He had one more chance to make it five golds on the final day of swimming at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

A few minutes after Dressel climbed from the pool, McKeon completed her own freestyle sweep. She touched in 23.81 to take the women's 50 free, adding to her victory in the 100.

Then McKeon entered truly rarified territory in the women's 4x100 medley relay.

McKeon took the butterfly leg before Cate Campbell anchored the Aussies to a victory over the two-time defending champion Americans.

The gold was McKeon's fourth of the games. She also claimed three bronze medals, making her the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single games.

The only men to do it are Americans Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi.

In keeping with the theme of the day, Bobby Finke pulled off his own sweep in the two longest freestyle races.

With another strong finishing kick, Finke became the first American man in 37 years to win the 1,500 freestyle. He added to his victory in the 800 free, a new men's event at these games.

In the men's 50, 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's final event — and the final race at the Tokyo pool — was swimming butterfly in the 4x100 medley relay, a race the U.S. men had never lost at the Olympics.

It was capper nine days of swimming competition at a 15,000-seat that, sadly, was largely empty throughout the meet because the surging coronavirus pandemic.

If Dressel claimed a fifth victory, he would join Phelps, Spitz, Biondi and 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 won the 50 free 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.

Capping a brilliant performance by the entire Aussie women's team, McKeon came back a short time later to claim another gold on the medley relay.

Cate Campebll closed strong on the freestyle, touching in an Olympic record of 3:51.60 to edge the Americans.

Kaylee McKeown and Chelsea Hodges rounded out the Australian team.

Abbey Weitzeil touched in 3:51.73 to give the United States a silver. She anchored a team that also included teenagers Regan Smith, Lydia Jacoby and Torri Huske.

The bronze went to Canada in 3:52.60.

Just as he did in winning the 800 free, Finke stayed close throughout the 30-lap race and turned on the speed at the end. He touched in 14 minutes, 39.65 seconds.

Ukraine's Mykhailo Romanchuk took the silver in 14:40.66, while the bronze went to Germany's Florian Wellbrock in 14:40.91. Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri faded to fourth in 14:45.01.

The top four were close nearly the entire race, often separated by less than a second. But that was right where Finke needed to be. After his closing lap in the 800, he knew he had the speed at the end to beat everyone else.

Finke has been perhaps the biggest American surprise at the pool. Relatively unknown before the U.S. trials, he became the first American male to win the grueling event since Mike O'Brien at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Photos

Paul Newberry

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