Dressel, Ledecky lead powerful US swim team headed to Tokyo

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Former University of Florida standout Caeleb Dressel reacts Sunday after winning the men's 50 freestyle during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Neb.

OMAHA, Neb.  — With Michael Phelps five years into retirement, the stage is set in Tokyo for Caeleb Dressel. Katie Ledecky is ready to extend her dominance, competing in four individual events plus relays at the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

They lead a powerful U.S. swimming team that is expected to top the medals standings once again. No world records were set at the eight-day trials that ended Sunday, but the Americans figure to flash their speed with gold on the line.

Caeleb Dressel's gold hunt

Dressel, a former University of Florida standout, made the team in the 50 and 100 freestyles and the 100 butterfly. He could swim in at least three relays in Tokyo, including the new mixed 4x100 medley featuring men and women.

He closed his trials by tying his American record of 21.04 seconds in the 50 free, fastest in the world this year.

“There is plenty we can do to get better and move forward from this,” he said. “This was a really fun meet. I got better with each event. I'm ready to get back in the water with a plan.”

Five years ago in Rio, Dressel won two gold medals as part of relays. Since then, he won 13 gold medals and two silvers at the world championships in 2017 and 2019.

Tabbed as the potential successor to Phelps, Dressel will be under intense pressure and scrutiny in Tokyo.

Katie Ledecky's Olympic defense

Ledecky will swim the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles in Tokyo. She'll be the favorite to defend her 800 title and win the longest race for women — a new event at next month's games — in which she owns the world record.

But she won't be favored in the 200 or 400, where Ledecky faces a potential showdown with Ariarne Titmus of Australia. Ledecky surprised herself with times that were not as fast as she had expected in Omaha.

“I don't think we have to get too caught up in what times people are going here versus anywhere else in the world right now,” she said.

Florida's Bobby Finke rookie debut

Bobby Finke put on a stellar performance in the men's 1500 free Sunday, jumping out to an early lead and sailing to victory by almost 15 seconds. Finke – who won the 800 free earlier in the week – finished in a time of 14:46.06, lowering his previous best time of 14:48.70 set at the 2018 Pan Pacs. Finke moves up from seventh to fifth all-time among Americans, and now ranks fourth in the world this season.

"This was a fantastic finish to the meet this evening," UF head coach Anthony Nesty. "Bobby Finke endured a back to back 1500 Free, winning with a personal best of 14:46.06, easily securing his place on the US Team in that event. Bobby had an amazing race and we are extremely proud of him. He executed that swim with perfection."

All freestyle events on the men's side at the Olympic Trials were won by a Florida Gator.

50 Free: Caeleb Dressel

100 Free: Dressel

200 Free: Kieran Smith

400 Free: Smith

800 Free: Bobby Finke

1500 Free: Finke

Gators coach Anthony Nesty to assist U.S. Olympic Swim Team

Nesty has been named as an assistant coach to the Men's U.S Olympic Swim Team. He will be joining four other Gators in Tokyo.

"I am very honored to be appointed to the United States Olympic Staff as a Men's Assistant Coach", said Nesty. "I am very excited to be with our athletes on this journey and we will all do our best to represent the Gators and the United States admirably. We have some work to do and we will do our best to get ourselves on the medal podium in Tokyo."

Joining Nesty as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men's Olympic Team is former Gator head coach Gregg Troy.

Gators are Tokyo Olympians

Kieran Smith – 200 Free, 400 Free, 4x200 Free Relay

Bobby Finke – 800 Free, 1500 Free

Caeleb Dressel – 50 Free, 100 Free, 100 Fly, 4x100 Free Relay

Natalie Hinds – 4x100 Free Relay. Hinds (53.84) finished fourth in the 100 free Friday to earn a spot on the 4x100 free relay.

Up next: The Tokyo Olympics will run July 23 through Aug. 8, with the swimming events scheduled for July 24-August 1.­­

The USA Olympic swim team poses for a picture after the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Sunday in Omaha, Neb.