Mission accomplished: Dressel, Ledecky get the job done with wins at US trials


OMAHA, United States, June 20, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – World record-holder Caeleb
Dressel will try to add 100m butterfly Olympic gold to his two world titles
after a victory Saturday at the US Olympic swimming trials.

Dressel, who clocked the world record of 49.50 at the 2019 World
Championships, led wire-to-wire on the way to victory in 49.87sec.

That was a shade off his semi-final time of 49.76, but easily enough for
victory over Tom Shields, a 2016 Rio Olympics relay gold medallist who was
second in 51.19.

Dressel, who won two relay golds in Rio but finished sixth in the 100m
freestyle, has since emerged as a multi-event star, winning a record eight
medals, six gold, at the 2019 worlds.

He had already punched his ticket to Tokyo in the 100m freestyle, and
later Saturday topped the semi-final times in the 50m free ahead of Michael
Andrew and 2012 100m free gold medallist Nathan Adrian.

“The goal of this meet is making the team,” Dressel said. “I would have
liked to be a little faster just to put more of a show on for the home crowd.

“But we made the team and I’m in the final of the 50. This meet’s going as
according to plan as it possibly could have.”

Katie Ledecky echoed that sentiment after completing her qualifying
campaign with another dominant victory in the 800m freestyle, her time of
8:14.62 putting her more than five seconds ahead of surprise second-place
finisher Katie Grimes.

The time was nothing spectacular for Ledecky, who owns the world record of
8:04.79 and in fact the top 10 times of all time.

But the five-time Olympic gold medallist said she wasn’t too concerned
about times coming out of the eight-day trials in which she qualified to swim
the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles in Tokyo.

“I think we feel pretty good coming out of this week, mission
accomplished,” Ledecky said. “You can’t really take that for granted.”

The 15-year-old Grimes was impressive in taking second place in a career
best 8:20.36, running down open water Olympian Haley Anderson on the final

“I was just, like, in shock,” said Grimes. “I can’t even begin to explain
how excited I am.

“Ohh,” she added on a sigh. “Gosh.”

As she hung on a lane rope and absorbed her accomplishment, Grimes was
congratulated by Ledecky and by two other members of her club team in the
final who had already booked Tokyo berths — Bella Sims and Erica Sullivan.

“I told Katie Grimes after her third place in the (1500m) you’re the
future,” Ledecky said. “I told her after that one she’s the now.”

There was a certain symmetry in the one-two finish. Nine years ago Ledecky
was 15 when she won the 800m free at trials and went to London and won her
first Olympic gold.

– Backstroke shocker –

It was an upset in the women’s 200m backstroke, as Rhyan White and 18-
year-old Phoebe Bacon finished one-two to shut world record-holder Regan
Smith out of a 200m spot in Tokyo.

White, 21, had already punched her ticket to Tokyo with a runner-up finish
to Smith in the 100m back.

She won the 200m in 2:05.73sec while Bacon, an 18-year-old University of
Wisconsin standout, was second in 2:06.46.

Smith, who is already on the team in 200m butterfly as well as the 100m
back, was third in 2:06.79.

It was a season-best for the swimmer who set the world record at 2:03.35
in 2019, but not near enough to give her a chance at a backstroke double in

Simone Manuel, 100m freestyle gold medallist in Rio, bounced back from her
shock exit in the semi-finals of the 100m free with the third-fastest time in
the 50m free semis.

Abbey Weitzeil, winner of the 100m, led the way into Sunday’s 50m final in
24.27, with teenager Torri Huske second in their semi in 24.45.

Manuel won her semi-final in 24.50.

“It’s nice to just swim as fast as I can,” said Manuel, who had revealed
her battle with overtraining syndrome after her 100m free exit.

“I do think sharing my story kind of helped me free myself and allowed me
to go out and fight to be on the team.”