Gwangju: American star Caeleb Dressel, swimming’s chiselled, tattooed pin-up boy, destroyed Michael Phelps’s 100-metre butterfly world record on Friday as countrywoman Simone Manuel retained her 100-metre freestyle world title.
Reigning champ Dressel clenched a fist in the direction of flag-waving American fans after clocking an astonishing 49.50 seconds in Gwangju to eclipse the American legend’s old bodysuit mark by 0.32 and rob him of a second world record in 48 hours.
Dressel’s fireworks were matched in the next event when American teenager Regan Smith crushed the women’s 200 metres backstroke world record, before Russian Anton Chupkov emulated them as he stormed to gold in the 200 metres breaststroke.
But Dressel, who has already won three gold medals this week, remains the hottest ticket in South Korea.
“It can be a scary thought,” said Dressel, who looks on course to match or even surpass the seven golds he scooped at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.
“I woke up today and I wanted to do it,” added the 22-year-old, who logged a 21.18 in the 50m freestyle semis after a quick turnaround.
I felt a lot of pressure to repeat. It feels amazing.
“I didn’t really have the nerves, I just wanted to do it. Records are meant to be broken, I hope Michael was happy watching me do that.”
Manuel exploded from the blocks in lane one to win gold in the women’s 100-metre free in 52.04 ahead of Australian Cate Campbell and Sweden’s world record holder Sarah Sjostrom.
“I felt a lot of pressure to repeat,” said Olympic champ Manuel. “It feels amazing.”
Chupkov found an extra gear off the final wall to snatch 200m breaststroke gold in 2:06.12 — knocking more than half a second off the previous world best, with Aussie Matt Wilson taking silver.
Smith covered her face with her hands after shattering the women’s 200m backstroke world record, clocking 2:03.35 to erase Missy Franklin’s old mark by more than seven tenths.
“I’m in shock,” gasped the 17-year-old. “I didn’t think I’d ever do that — it’s crazy.”
Sun, who retained his 200 and 400m free titles this week, and China finished a distant sixth in the men’s 4x200 metres freestyle behind winners Australia.
Mack Horton, who refused to take the podium after losing to Sun in the 400m final last weekend, conjured an astonishing late fightback to anchor the Aussies to gold in a time of 7:00.85 with Russia taking silver and the United States bronze.
Russian Yulia Efimova, who has twice tested positive for banned substances in the past, became the first woman to three-peat in the 200m breaststroke, clocking 2:20.17 — more than two seconds faster than silver medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker.
Meanwhile, Evgeny Rylov retained his 200m backstroke crown in 1:53.40 and complete a Russian hat-trick of gold medals on day six.
Manuel wasn’t swimming up to her standards, and she felt her relay anchor leg that resulted in a silver medal for the US proved it.
Then she remembered it’s always about bouncing back.
Manuel did just that in the 100 freestyle, winning her second straight title at the world championships.
Relegated to Lane 1 with the slowest qualifying time, the American led all the way and touched first in 52.04 seconds, beating Cate Campbell of Australia by 0.39 seconds.
“Not everybody has a perfect swim every time so I just needed to regroup and put on a good face,” Manuel said. “I’m a veteran on the team, so I have to be able to show a little bit of poise in these hard moments.”
Manuel was unable to hold off Campbell on the anchor leg of the 4x100 free relay earlier in the meet, with Australia claiming gold and the US silver.
“I did take that relay really hard because I didn’t feel like I did as best as I possibly could,” Manuel said.
She made up for it in the 100 free.