GWANGJU, South Korea — Caeleb Dressel’s time of 22.35 set a championship record and earned him a ninth career world title, as the United States won its first-ever gold in the men’s 50 fly, a non-Olympic event at the world swimming championships Monday night.
Two years ago, Dressel, a former University of Florida standout, won seven golds to equal Michael Phelps’ record at a single worlds. The 50 fly was the only event Dressel failed to win in Budapest.
Dressel tied a bandana belonging to a former high school mentor who died on the ribbon that was placed around his neck as a way to carry her memory with him.
“That’s faster than two years ago and a better place than two years ago,” Dressel said. “It’s good, good for Team USA and I’m glad I can be a part of keeping that ball rolling.”
On Sunday, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Green Cove Springs, Florida, won his first gold medal as part of the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle.
[Update:] On Thursday, Dressel won swimming’s glamour event, the 100 free, for his third gold and fourth medal overall.
“It hurt really bad to be honest,” he said. “You don’t always get that magical feeling every night but you’ve just got to shut the brain off and go.”
Dressel touched in 46.96 seconds, the only man to dip under 47 seconds in the final. He was only 0.05 seconds off the 10-year-old world record of 46.91 set by Brazil’s Cesar Cielo.
“It took 100% effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race,” Dressel said. “I kind of shut off thinking about the race so that helped a lot and having Kyle right there.”
Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia settled for silver in 47.08. Vladislav Grinev of Russia took bronze in 47.82.
Dressel tied for quickest off the starting block and held off a challenge from Chalmers in the closing meters to defend the world title he won in 2017.
Dressel hopped on the lane rope, tossing his head back and his legs out in front of him in celebration.
Dressel’s other golds came in the 50 butterfly, a non-Olympic event, and the 4×100 free relay. He took silver in the mixed 4×100 medley relay.