Caeleb Dressel celebrates winning gold and setting a new world record in the men's 100m butterfly during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO — It was a historic morning at the Tokyo Aquatic Center.
In the men’s 100-meter butterfly, Caeleb Dressel cemented his Olympic legacy, breaking his own world record and winning his second individual gold medal — and fifth overall, with two events left to swim here at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Then Katie Ledecky led the women’s 800-meter freestyle from start to finish, winning her third straight Olympic gold medal in the event. She is the third woman to win three consecutive Olympic titles in the same swimming race.
“It's tough to win one gold medal, and to do it three times in a row in that event, it's amazing,” she said. “That was a really fast field, I knew I had to bring it.”
Dressel Sets World Record In Men’s 100 Butterfly
Dressel got the session started by dominating the men’s 100-meter butterfly, breaking his world record by 0.05 of a second, lowering it to 49.45.
He held off Hungarian rival Kristof Milak, who swam the fastest second lap for the silver medal and touched the wall in 49.68. Milak is the 2017 world championship silver medalist in the 100 fly.
“I knew what I had to do to execute, and it hurt,” said Dressel of his world-record setting race. “It hurt really bad. But it’s fine.”
“What a close race — two of the fastest times in history,” he added. “You don't get that very often, so to be a part of that is really special.”
Dressel, 24, is known for his speed off the blocks, 21-year-old Milak for his closing speed. So the American’s plan was to start quickly, then hang on.
“I didn't even die,” said Dressel. “He just came home, really well.”
Then he quipped about Milak: “He’s going to put me out of a job one day, I’ve got to hold on as long as I can.”
It was the first of three races on Dressel’s program today. Within 83 minutes, he set the world record in the 100 fly, won the 50-meter freestyle semifinals, then anchored the U.S. in the Olympic debut of the mixed medley relay to a disappointing fifth place finish.
In the 20 minutes between the 50 free semifinals and the relay, Dressel kept loose by swimming in the diving pool adjacent to the competition pool. It’s a tactic Michael Phelps used at the 2012 London Olympic Games when he swam multiple events in one night.
Speaking of Phelps, Dressel is the first American not named Michael Phelps to win the 100 fly in the 21st millennium. Phelps won three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the event (2004-2012), then finished in a three-way tie for silver at the 2016 Games.
But Dressel has no intention of being the next Phelps. He actually preferred it when fewer people knew his name.
“The sport was a lot more fun when no one knew my name, to be honest,” Dressel confessed.
A favorite to win the 100 fly gold medal and bring home six medals from the Tokyo Games, Dressel was uncharacteristically nervous in the ready room before the 100 butterfly.
“I was like telling my brain to shut up, to be honest, because it was a little bit annoying,” he said. “It's not going to hinder me from executing what my race plan is, it was just a little bit annoying.
“Yeah, I was nervous,” added Dressel, who’s known for his forthrightness and honesty.
There we go.”