Former Gator, Green Cove Springs' Caeleb Dressel wins gold in Olympic 100 free swimming

Clayton Freeman
Florida Times-Union
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Caeleb Dressel celebrates after winning the men's 100-meter freestyle, his first Olympic gold in an individual race.

The medal collection for Caeleb Dressel is growing again — and in Olympic record style.

The former Clay High School and University of Florida sprint star won gold in Olympic-record time to win Wednesday night's men's 100-meter freestyle swimming final at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Holding off Australian Kyle Chalmers and Russian Kliment Kolesnikov in a thrilling final, Dressel touched the wall in 47.02 in the two-length race across the Tokyo Aquatics Center. He finished six hundredths of a second clear of Chalmers, reigning champion from the 2016 Games.

Dressel — already a 13-time world champion in FINA long-course world finals — won his second gold medal at these Olympics, his fourth gold medal overall and, at last, his first gold in an individual race.

On Sunday, Dressel had won his first medal in Tokyo as the leadoff swimmer on the United States' gold medal-winning 4x100 free relay team.

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Dressel also won two gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the 4x100 free relay and the medley relay.

When he had contested the 100 free in 2016, he finished sixth in the final.

Caeleb Dressel holds up his gold medal after winning the 100-meter freestyle on Wednesday night at the Tokyo Olympics.

Dressel, who won eight medals in 2019 at the FINA World Championships in South Korea, has a chance to win as many as six medals in Tokyo. Although he did not swim Tuesday night's 4x200 relay, in which the American team missed the medal podium entirely, he is still a leading medal contender in the 100 fly, the 50 free, the men's medley relay and the newly-introduced mixed medley relay.

Dressel had plenty to cheer about even before he jumped into the water.

His race came about an hour after another Gator, Bobby Finke, captured a gold medal in the men's 800 free. Finke, a 21-year-old from Clearwater, waited through 15 lengths of the pool, most of the race in fourth or fifth, before accelerating in the final 50 meters to out-touch Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri at the line by less than a quarter of a second.

Finke's victory was the first ever in an Olympic men's 800, introduced for Tokyo along with the women's 1,500.

Bolles School's Ryan Murphy remained on course in the 200 backstroke, touching second in his semifinal in 1:55.38 behind Luke Greenbank of Great Britain.

The defending Olympic champion at the event, he enters Thursday night's final with the third-fastest time overall. He ranks behind only Russia's Evgeny Rylov, champion in the 100 back, and Greenbank. Fellow University of California swimmer Bryce Mefford also reached the final.

Murphy earned a bronze medal, his fourth overall at the Olympics, during the 100 back on Monday night. Rylov's victory in that event was the first for a swimmer from outside the United States at the Olympics since 1992.

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