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Worlds Now, Wedding Later For Swimmer Kelsi Worrell

By Karen Rosen | July 24, 2017, 4:01 p.m. (ET)

Kelsi Worrell competes in the women's 100-meter butterfly semifinals at the 2017 FINA World Championships on July 23, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.


BUDAPEST, Hungary – While Kelsi Worrell is swimming at the 2017 FINA World Championships, her fiancé is doing most of the planning for their Oct. 27 wedding.

“He’s making sure I’m not too worried and just focused on the meet,” Worrell said of former French national team swimmer Thomas Dahlia. “He’s been very involved, which is great, because I don’t have like a dream wedding Pinterest board.”

Worrell did have specific goals for worlds, and she’s checking them off.

On Monday night, Worrell added a bronze medal in the 100-meter butterfly to the 4x100-meter freestyle gold she won the previous night.

Worrell swam a personal best of 56.37 seconds, finishing behind Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, who set a meet record of 55.53 seconds, chopping .11 off her own meet record from two years ago. Emma McKeon of Australia was second in 56.18.

“I know I have it in me,” Worrell said. “My body’s ready. I just had to turn my brain off and let my body do its thing.”

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However – through no fault of Worrell or Dahlia -- everything isn’t going swimmingly with the wedding. The dress Worrell ordered isn’t coming.

That’s because the Alfred Angelo wedding dress chain declared bankruptcy. To add insult to injury, they found out on July 15, which was Worrell’s 23rd birthday. She was already at training camp with the team while Dahlia is taking classes at Louisville for his MBA.

“As far as I know I’m not getting my money back and I’m not getting the dress. So that’s my number one goal when I get back is to find a dress,” she said.

At the Olympic Games Rio 2016 last summer, Worrell felt like a bridesmaid instead of a bride. She was one spot away from making the 100 fly final, officially finishing ninth. She did take home a gold medal, swimming a leg in the winning 4x100-meter medley.

“It was incredibly tough,” Worrell said of not advancing past the semifinals. “If anything, it made me a better swimmer and it strengthened my faith a lot.”

And on Monday, instead of watching Sjostrom get the gold in Rio and teammate Dana Vollmer win the bronze, Worrell was in the final.

She swam to the left of Sjostrom, who set the world record in the 100-meter freestyle Sunday night and is the premier female sprinter.

“I just admire her so much,” Worrell said. “And I got to talk with her in the ready room – she’s so sweet. I actually could see her a little bit out of the corner of my eye and I was like, ‘I must be doing OK if I can be a little bit close to her.’”

She will also compete later this week in the 50-meter butterfly, which is not an Olympic event, and is expected to swim on the 4x100-meter medley team.

“I still have a lot more of the meet to go,” Worrell said, “so I’ve got to forget about it, get ready for the next thing.”

Although she now has two shiny new medals, Worrell said they won’t be part of the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” tradition when she gets married.

“There’ll be nothing about swimming at the wedding,” she said.

Team USA also won a silver medal and another bronze at the Danube Arena pool.

Kevin Cordes won silver in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke and Madisyn Cox took the bronze in the women’s 200-meter individual medley.

Cordes swam a time of 58.79 seconds to finish behind Adam Peaty, the world record holder from Great Britain who set a meet record of 57.47 seconds.

Cody Miller, the Olympic bronze medalist for Team USA, was fifth with a time of 59.11.

Like Worrell, Cordes experienced disappointment in Rio. He was fourth in the 100 breast and eighth in the 200 breast.

He reestablished himself this year, taking back his American record from Miller with a time of 58.74 seconds in winning the national title. He then lowered that mark to 58.64 in the semifinals at worlds.

“It brought a lot of confidence, definitely,” Cordes said, “especially coming off an Olympic year. Being with Team USA in a training camp gets you right back in it, right back re-motivated.”

Cordes said he tried to stay with Peaty, who goes out fast.

“I had nothing to lose, so I just kind of went for it,” Cordes said.

Cox found herself in the unenviable position of seventh at 100 meters – and that was actually last since one swimmer dropped out -- and sixth at 150 meters.

But she surged to third in the freestyle leg, finishing with a time of 2:09.71, just .02 shy of her personal best.

Katinka Hosszu, Hungary’s gold-medal winning “Iron Lady,” won with a time of 2:07.00 and Yui Ohashi of Japan, swimming from the usually unnoticed Lane 8, took the silver in 2:07.91.

“Honestly, I know I’m always kind of behind the front half of the race,” Cox said. “I just had to keep my head in the game, know what my plan for the race was, stick to it and keep on pushing as hard as I could.”

The crowd roared for Hosszu, who briefly flirted with her own world record on the first leg. “It shakes you, it’s so loud,” Cox said. “The whole facility is shaking from the yelling, but it’s so great to see a country get behind one swimmer that much.”

She said she could feed off the energy, too.

“Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend it’s me,” Cox said.

She overtook teammate Melanie Margalis, who won the event at nationals. Margalis was in third at the 150 mark, but wound up fourth in 2:09.82, more than a second slower than her personal best of 2:08.70.

“I talked to Mel just a little bit after the race,” Cox said. “It’s kind of chaotic right when you finish the race. She’s always a great competitor. You have some people that can have a little animosity toward you at the finish, but Mel’s always been a great person inside out no matter what the finish is like.”

Cox doesn’t have any more races at worlds. “I’m excited to be in the stands,” she said, “cheering my teammates and being as loud and rowdy as I can possibly be.”

Although Katie Ledecky did not have a final Monday night, she didn’t have the day off.

Ledecky, who has already won two golds at worlds, competed in the morning prelims of the women’s 1,500-meter, which will become an Olympic event for the first time at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. She cruised to a time of 15 minutes, 47.54 seconds, which was a whopping 17.83 seconds faster than her nearest rival, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte. Ledecky set the world record of 15:25.48 two years ago at the world championships in Kazan, Russia. In Tuesday’s final, she could break the record for most gold medals by a female swimmer at worlds.

Ledecky is currently tied with Team USA’s Missy Franklin at 11. She still has a ways to go to catch Natalie Coughlin, who has the record of 20 total medals.

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Kelsi Worrell

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