SWIMMING: MacNeil stuns Sjostrom in 100 m Fly final and Dressel takes 50 m Fly title at Worlds

Seven-time 2017 World Champion Caeleb Dressel

If Katie Ledecky’s loss in the 400 m Freestyle was an upset, the idea of seeing Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom beaten in the final of the World Championships 100 m Butterfly was sheer fantasy.

Holder of the world record and the top 11 times in history, Sjostrom had hammered everyone during spring’s FINA Champions Swim Series and looked ready to win her fourth straight world title Monday night in Gwangju (KOR). And she was the leading qualifier at 56.29.

But Canada’s 19-year-old Maggie MacNeil – who just finished her freshman year at Michigan – was moving up. Coming into the Worlds, she had a best of 57.04, but lowered that to 56.90 in her heat, then 56.52 in the semi … as the clear favorite for the silver medal.

In the final, American Kelsi Dahlia got out quickly, but Sjostrom had control of the race by the turn, leading Dahlia by 25.96-26.48, with Australia’s Emma McKeon coming on. But MacNeil found another gear in the last 35 m, racing up toward Sjostrom and then moving best in the final 10 m to the wall … and won!

The scoreboard showed 55.83 for MacNeil, a lifetime best by a sensational 0.69, to 56.22 for Sjostrom, an unimaginable defeat for the Swede (and everyone else). MacNeil (pictured below) moves to no. 2 all-time – from 21st prior to the Worlds – with the eighth-fastest swim in the history of the event.

Her reaction? “I cant even fathom it right now … It’s crazy.”

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That was the race of the day, but American Caeleb Dressel made some history of his own as the first American to win the world title in the 50 m Butterfly. He had already broken his own American Record in the semifinal at 22.57 and got out well, coming up from the start with a quick stroke and powering to the front by midway. He timed his final stroke perfectly and held a small edge to the wall to win in another American Record of 22.35.

It’s the second-fastest time ever and his final surge to the touch extended his margin to 22.35-22.70 over Russia’s Oleg Kostin. American Michael Andrew missed a bronze medal by .01, 22.79-22.80 behind 39-year-old Nicholas Santos of Brazil. Andrew can take heart, however, from Dressel … who finished fourth in this event at the 2017 Worlds.

Afterwards, Dressel said, “I’m really happy with the outcome tonight. It didn’t come easy, it never does.” Told about making history, Dressel deadpanned, “I guess I’m glad to be the first.”

In the men’s 100 m Breaststroke, Britain’s Adam Peaty won his third straight world title as expected, clocking 57.14, the fourth-fastest race in history. Counting that and his world record of 56.88 in the semis, he now owns the top 16 times in history.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won her fourth straight Worlds gold in the 200 m Individual Medley, winning by more than a second in 2:07.53.

In the evening semifinals, China’s Jaiyu Xu led the 100 m Backstroke qualifiers in 52.17, breaking American Aaron Piersol’s meet record of 52.19 from 2009. Both Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers qualified for the final.

In the women’s 100 m Breaststroke semis, Russia’s Yuliya Efimova and American Lilly King won their heats; Efimova swam 1:05.56 in heat one and King won in 1:05.66 in heat two.

Summaries so far:

FINA World Aquatics Championships
Gwangju (KOR) ~ 12-28 July 2019
(Full results here)

SWIMMING

Men

400 m Freestyle: 1. Yang Sun (CHN), 3:42.44; 2. Mack Horton (AUS), 3:43.17; 3. Gabriele Detti (ITA), 3:43.23; 4. Danas Rapsys (LTU), 3:43.50; 5. Marco de Tullio (ITA), 3:44.86; 6. Xinjie Ji (CHN), 3:45.64; 8. Zane Grothe (USA), 3:45.78.

4×100 m Freestyle: 1. United States (Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Zach Apple, Nathan Adrian), 3:09.06; 2. Russia (Grinev, Morozov, Kolesnikov, Rylov), 3:09.97; 3. Australia (McEvoy, Lewis, Graham, Chalmers), 3:11.22; 4. Italy, 3:11.39; 5. Great Britain, 3:11.81; 6. Brazil, 3:11.99; 7. Hungary, 3:12.85; 8. France, 3:13.34.

100 m Breaststroke: 1. Adam Peaty (GBR), 57.14; 2. James Wilby (GBR), 58.46; 3. Zibei Yan (CHN), 58.63; 4. Yashuhiro Koseki (JPN), 58.93; 5. Kirill Prigoda (RUS), 59.09; 6. Andrew Wilson (USA), 59.11; 7. Dmitriy Balandin (KAZ), 59.14; 8. Anton Chupkov (RUS), 59.19. (In semifinals: Peaty, 56.88, World Record; old, 57.10, Peaty, 2018).

100 m Butterfly: 1. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 22.35 (American Record; old, 22.57, Dressel, in semifinals); 2. Oleg Kostin (RUS), 22.70; 3. Nicholas Santos (BRA), 22.79; 4. Michael Andrew (USA), 22.80; 5. Szebasztian Szabo (HUN), 22.90; 6. Andrii Govorov (UKR), 22.91; 7. Benjamin Proud (GBR), 23.01; 8. Andrey Zhilkin (RUS), 23.11.

Women

400 m Freestyle: 1. Ariarne Titmus (AUS), 3:58.76; 2. Katie Ledecky (USA), 3:59.97; 3. Leah Smith (USA), 4:01.29; 4. Ajna Kesely (HUN), 4:01.31; 5. Jianjiahe Wang (CHN), 4:03.67; 6. Boglarka Kapas (HUN), 4:05.36; 7. Anna Egorova (RUS), 4:06.16; 8. Veronika Andrusenko (RUS), 4:08.60.

4×100 m Freestyle: 1. Australia (Bronte Campbell, Throssell, McKeon, Cate Campbell), 3:30.21; 2. United States (Mallory Comerford, Abbey Weitzeil, Kelsi Dahlia, Simone Manuel), 3:31.02 (American Record; old, 3:31.72, National Team, 2017); 3. Canada (Sanchez, Ruck, Oleksiak, MacNeil), 3:31.78; 4. Netherlands, 3:35.32; 5. China, 3:35.83; 6. Sweden, 3:36.33; 7. Japan, 3:36.79; 8. Germany, 3:39.07.

100 m Butterfly: 1. Margaret MacNeil (CAN), 55.83; 2. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 56.22; 3. Emma McKeon (AUS), 56.61; 4. Elena di Liddo (ITA), 57.07; 5. Brianna Throssell (AUS), 57.09; 6. Kelsi Dahlia (USA), 57.11; 7. Louise Hansson (SWE), 57.16; 8. Marie Wattel (FRA), 57.29.

200 m Individual Medley: 1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:07.53; 2. Shiwen Ye (CHN), 2:08.60; 3. Sydney Pickrem (CAN), 2:08.70; 4. Melanie Margalis (USA), 2:08.91; 5. Rika Omoto (JPN), 2:09.32; 6. Seoyeong Kim (KOR), 2:10.12; 7. Siobhan O’Connor (GBR), 2:10.43; disqualified – Yui Ohashi (JPN).