Caeleb Dressel scratches rest of world swimming championships; Ryan Murphy wins relay gold

Clay graduate, Olympic champion withdraws from world meet

Clayton Freeman
Florida Times-Union
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Caeleb Dressel races at the 50-meter butterfly semifinal on Saturday. Dressel, who has already won two gold medals at the world championships, withdrew Wednesday from the rest of the meet.

Six-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel withdrew from the remainder of the FINA World Aquatics Championship Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary, while Bolles School graduate Ryan Murphy won his first gold medal and his second overall at the meet.

Former Clay High School and University of Florida swimmer Dressel scratched his remaining events one day after pulling out of Tuesday's 100-meter freestyle an hour and a half before the semifinal.

USA Swimming cited otherwise-unspecified medical reasons for his Tuesday scratch, and said Wednesday that the decision to drop the rest of the competition was made "after conferring with Caeleb, his coaches and the medical staff."

The national federation disclosed few details about the withdrawal of the 25-year-old from Green Cove Springs.

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"He’s just not fit to compete right now. And so we just needed to make that decision. It needed to be a quick decision," American team manager Lindsay Mintenko told the Associated Press.

Mintenko said she could not be more specific about the cause for Dressel’s withdrawal.

"Our priority is and will always be the health of our athletes and we will continue [to] give Caeleb the assistance he needs to recover quickly," USA Swimming said in a statement to the Associated Press.

The five-time gold medalist at last summer's Olympics in Tokyo was scheduled for as many as four more events — two individual races, the 100 butterfly and the 50 free, and potentially two relays. He won a record seven gold medals at the 2017 world championships in Hungary, and eight medals (six gold) at the 2019 championships in South Korea, earning FINA male swimmer of the year honors in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

Dressel, designated with Murphy among five captains of the United States team prior to the meet, had already won gold in his first two events this week, the 50 fly and the men's 4x100 free relay.

Ryan Murphy competes during his men's 200-meter backstroke preliminary rounds on Wednesday.

Murphy, meanwhile, captured his gold late Tuesday as part of the United States team in the 4x100-meter mixed medley relay, a team event consisting of two men and two women per nation. He helped the American squad to victory despite swimming only the preliminary round, not the finals.

The former Bolles School swimmer raced the opening backstroke leg to help the American team finish first in the preliminary phase. In the finals, the quartet of Hunter Armstrong, Nic Fink, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan powered the United States to a convincing victory in 3:38.79, more than two and a half seconds clear of Australia and the Netherlands. 

Murphy also stayed on course to advance comfortably from the early rounds at the 200 back, surging in the final length to qualify in 1:55.43 from Wednesday's semifinals.

The 2016 Olympic champion finished with the top overall time and holds the top seed for Thursday's 200 back final.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Clayton Freeman covers high school sports and more for the Florida Times-Union. Follow him on Twitter at @CFreemanJAX.

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