Sjostrom storms into 100m free final, Dressel clinches third gold

Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden competing in the 100m freestyle semi-finals at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest yesterday. She finished with a time of 52.44sec ahead of the final today and is also the world record holder in 51.71sec.
Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden competing in the 100m freestyle semi-finals at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest yesterday. She finished with a time of 52.44sec ahead of the final today and is also the world record holder in 51.71sec.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST • Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom continued to make waves at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, after she cruised into the 100m freestyle final yesterday.

The 23-year-old - who smashed the world record in Sweden's lead-off leg during the 4x100m freestyle relay in 51.71 seconds - finished with a time of 52.44sec in the 100m freestyle semi-finals.

Her time was the fastest going into today's final, ahead of Americans Simone Manuel (52.69sec) and Mallory Comerford (52.85sec).

Sjostrom also made history on Monday by winning the 100m butterfly to become the first woman to win four golds in that event.

In the men's 100m free final, Caeleb Dressel of the United States won gold in a time of 47.17sec - his third gold of the week.

His compatriot Nathan Adrian took silver in 47.87sec while Frenchman Mehdy Metella was third in 47.89sec.

After Sjostrom broke the 100m freestyle world record, American great Mark Spitz said he believes she can swim even faster after she became the first woman to go under 52 seconds.

Spitz himself became the first man to break 52 seconds in 1970 before posting 51.47 seconds in the blue riband event, ahead of winning a record seven golds at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

"In the 47 years it has taken a woman to go as fast as a man there have been three of four generations that have come and gone since I retired," Spitz, 67, told Reuters yesterday on the sidelines of the world championships.

"There will always be a comparison where a woman can be as fast as a man but it's now testament to new types of training and cross-training. It's exciting."

Spitz blitzed to Munich gold in 51.22 and admits Sjostrom has the capability to make further inroads on his Olympic mark.

"Sarah has raw speed and isn't afraid to use it at the beginning of her races," said Spitz, who was also a freestyle and butterfly specialist.

"There are no tactics with her and she's out in front at the start."

Spitz is in Hungary as an analyst for Brazilian channel SportTV and has been continually asked this week who is likely to replace Michael Phelps as swimming's next male superstar.

Spitz, who retired at 22, says the sprint calibre of 20-year-old Dressel could lift him up the ranks.

"He does 50 and 100 fly, 50 and 100 free and swims in the relays. Right there you have one person who can swim in seven events," Spitz said.

Dressel duly did not disappoint his compatriot with his gold medal yesterday.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Sjostrom storms into 100m free final, Dressel clinches third gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe