One star scratches, another smashes

Dressel pulls out of 100m free semis, while Milak wins 200m fly in record 1min 50.34sec

BUDAPEST • A capacity crowd at the swimming World Championships was deprived of one star on Tuesday night as Caeleb Dressel pulled out but saw the one they wanted, roaring local hero Kristof Milak to a world record.

The Hungarian won the event he usually dominates, the 200m butterfly, while American Dressel withdrew from the 100m freestyle semi-finals and mixed medley relay just before the session.

That called into question the much anticipated showdown between the two in the 100m butterfly, where Dressel holds the world record and edged out Milak in the Olympic final last year.

The heats will take place this morning and as of press time, Dressel is still registered for the event on its official website.

"Whether Dressel is there or not I will stand there and do everything I can in the 100 fly for a gold or a silver or a world record, this is all my focus," Milak said after his 200m fly world-record win in 1min 50.34sec.

"Of course it would be better if my big opponent was here... for a head-to-head fight."

Dressel had swum in Tuesday morning's heats in the 100m free, finishing second fastest to Romanian teenage sensation David Popovici. He won the event at the last two world championships and at last year's Tokyo Olympics.

"A decision has been made by Team USA in consultation with Caeleb, his coach and the team's medical staff for him to withdraw from the 100 m freestyle event on medical grounds. The team will determine his participation in the events later in the week," said a US team statement.

For Milak's final, a near full stadium produced the famed Duna roar for the first time this week. The reigning Olympic champion, the fastest qualifier, shaved 0.39sec off the world record he set when he won the last world title in 2019. It was Hungary's first gold of the competition.

"When I stepped on the blocks and got ready I felt as if I was in a dream, a feeling of being so in the flow. This is my home, my pool. I train here, I race four, lane four belongs to me. I really wanted to show something big for these fantastic people," Milak, who beat France's Leon Marchand by 3.03sec, told Hungarian television.

Meanwhile, the United States, even without Dressel, ended the evening by taking gold in the 4x100m mixed medley relay ahead of Australia and the Netherlands.

In yesterday's finals, 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh won the women's 200m fly in a world junior record of 2:05.20. American Hali Flickinger, 27, was second in 2:06.08 with China's Zhang Yufei, 24, third in 2:06.32.

In Dressel's absence, Popovici, 17, clinched the men's 100m free in 47.58sec, a mere 0.06sec ahead of France's Maxime Grousset. Canada's Joshua Liendo Edwards was third in 47.71.

Canada's Kylie Masse won the women's 50m backstroke in 27.31sec.


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline One star scratches, another smashes. Subscribe