Olympic swimming ends with splashy new records, US gold
TOKYO (AP) — American Caeleb Dressel finished off his gold rush at the Tokyo Olympics with two more dazzling races, and Australia's Emma McKeon won seven medals, more than any other female swimmer in a single games.
Now, when the greatest swimmers are mentioned, there are two new names on the list.
Taking his place alongside Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi, Dressel captured his fourth and fifth gold medals of the pandemic-delayed games on the final day of swimming at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
With victories Sunday in the 50-meter freestyle and 4x100 medley relay, the 24-year-old Floridian joined a truly elite club of swimmers who won at least five gold medals at one games.
Phelps did it three times, of course, highlighted by his record eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Games. There's also Spitz (seven golds in 1972), East German Kristin Otto (six golds in 1988) and Biondi (five golds, also in '88).
Dressel starred at the pool with McKeon, who also won two more golds Sunday to push her overall total to seven — four gold and three bronze. She is the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single games. The only men to do it are Phelps, Spitz and Biondi.
“It still feels very surreal,” the 27-year-old from Brisbane said. “It’s going to take a little bit to sink in. I’m very proud of myself.”
Mirroring Dressel’s final day, McKeon won the 50 free and took the butterfly leg on the Aussies’ winning 4x100 medley relay team on the women’s side.
In the men's medley — a race the men have never lost at the Olympics —the Americans were trailing two other teams when Dressel dived in for the fly. Just like that, he blew by Britain and Italy with a blistering leg of 49.03 seconds, more than a second faster that anyone else.
Zach Apple made the lead stand up on the freestyle to give the Americans a world record of 3 minutes, 26.78 seconds -- eclipsing the mark of 3:27.28 they set at the 2009 Rome world championships in rubberized suits.
Ryan Murphy and Michael Andrew joined Dressel and Apple on the winning team, ensuring the Americans remained unbeaten in the medley relay — the final swimming event at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
In the first event of the morning, Dressel won the 50 free for his third individual title of the games.
Dressel cruised to a relatively easy win in the frenetic dash from one end of the pool to the other, touching first in the 50 free with an Olympic record of 21.07.
When he saw his time and, more important, the “1” beside his name, he splashed the water and flexed his bulging arms.
He also won gold in the 100 free, set a world record in the 100 butterfly and took part in the winning 4x100 free relay.
A few minutes after Dressel climbed from the pool, McKeon completed her own freestyle sweep. She touched in 23.81 to add the 50 title to her victory in the 100.
In the medley relay, McKeon entered truly rarified territory. She is only the second woman in any sport to win seven medals at an Olympics, joining Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya, who claimed two golds and five silvers at the 1952 Helsinki Games.
McKeon took the butterfly leg before Cate Campbell anchored the Aussies to a victory over the two-time defending champion Americans.
“I don’t know how she does it. I’m exhausted,” said Kyle Chalmers, one of the McKeon’s teammates. “To win one gold medal or an Olympic medal, it’s very, very special. We’re lucky to have her on the team.”
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.
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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