Thirteen-time world champion Caeleb Dressel qualified his first event for the Tokyo Olympics Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.
Dressel won the 100-meter freestyle in 47.39, the second-fastest time in the world this year. Zach Apple placed second, likely also qualifying for Tokyo, in 47.72. 2016 Olympian Blake Pieroni and Brooks Curry finished in third and fourth, respectively, booking their Tokyo tickets as potential relay members.
"That hurt. That hurt real bad, but I'm happy with it," Dressel told NBC's Michele Tafoya.
The 24-year-old Dressel is the American record holder in the event with his 46.96 from the 2019 World Aquatics Championships. At Worlds that year, he won the 50 and 100 freestyle and 50 and 100 butterfly individually, and took gold as a member of the men's 4x100 free relay and the mixed 4x100 free relay.
Dressel, often heralded as the "next Michael Phelps" in terms of his ability to win across a range of events, could be in line to win seven gold medals in Tokyo provided the remainder of his Trials events go as planned.
He would be the favorite in the 50 and 100 free and 100 fly, and is a near-lock to compete on the men's 4x100 free relay, men's 4x100 medley relay, and mixed 4x100 medley relay -- and could join the men's 4x200 free relay.
Dressel competed in prelims of the 200 free on the first day of Trials, posting the No. 2 time in the field, but scratched out of the semifinals (he was likely just looking for a time to put him under consideration for the 4x200 relay in Tokyo). He had a break before moving into the meat of his schedule, beginning with the 100 free, then moving to the 100 fly and 50 free over the weekend.