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Friday July 19, 2024

Dressel, Ledecky line up title defenses at Paris Olympics with US trials wins

By AFP
June 24, 2024
Katie Ledecky competes in the womens 800m freestyle final on Day Eight of the 2024 US Olympic Team Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday. — AFP
Katie Ledecky competes in the women's 800m freestyle final on Day Eight of the 2024 US Olympic Team Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday. — AFP

LOS ANGELS: Caeleb Dressel powered to victory in the 100m butterfly at the US Olympic swimming trials to line up another title defense in Paris, where Katie Ledecky will go for a historic fourth straight 800m free gold.

Dressel wrapped up his emotional return to the US trials on Saturday, following up his 50m free victory on Friday with another win after his lengthy break from the sport.

Dressel seized control with his trademark explosive start, led at the wall and won in 50.19sec, with 17-year-old Thomas Heilman second in 50.80. Heilman had already won the 200m fly to become the youngest US male swimmer to book an Olympic berth since 15-year-old Michael Phelps and 17-year-old Aaron Piersol competed at the 2000 Sydney Games.

He flew home in the outside lane one to edge 21-year-old Dare Rose by four-hundredths of a second. “This is truly the hardest part,” Dressel said of the pressure-cooker US trials, where only the top two finishers in each event can secure an individual Olympic berth.

“It´s tough to make the team here, and that´s how it should be,” said Dressel, who won five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics to confirm his superstar status but abruptly stepped away from the sport in 2022.

“I think I´ve felt every emotion that I´m capable of,” Dressel said of the rollercoaster nine-day trials, held this year in the stunning, potentially intimidating atmosphere of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL´s Indianapolis Colts.