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Dressel, Ledecky wear more gold

TOKYO — Caeleb Dressel added a world record to his growing medal haul.

He won’t be joining a very exclusive club, however.

Dressel’s bid to win six gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics was over before he even dove into the pool for the new 4×100-meter mixed medley relay Saturday.

The Americans were too far behind when their top swimmer took over. The best Dressel could do was rally the U.S. to a fifth-place finish in the race that features two men and two women on each team.

Britain set a world record to win the gold.

The Americans were essentially doomed when 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby had her goggles knocked off on her dive into the water for the breaststroke leg.

It was a disappointing capper to a golden morning for the Americans, whose biggest swimming stars both ascended to the top of the medal podium.

Dressel set a world record while winning his third gold of the games in the 100 butterfly. Katie Ledecky closed out her grueling Olympic program with a third straight victory in the 800 freestyle.

Ledecky was pushed hard by Australian rival Ariarne Titmus, but the American held on in a race she hasn’t lost since 2010.

Ledecky finished up with two golds, two silver and a fifth-place finish at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre — not as successful as she was five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, but not bad at all.

Dressel led right from the start in the fly and held off Hungary’s Kristof Milak to touch in 49.45 seconds, breaking the mark of 49.50 that the American set at the 2019 world championships.

Milak, winner of the 200 fly, earned the silver with a blistering 49.68. The bronze went to Switzerland’s Noe Ponti.

When he saw the “WR” beside his name, Dressel smiled and joined hands with Milak in the lane next to him. They raised their arms together before Dressel flexed his left arm and pumped it in the air.

“What a close race and two of the fastest times in history,” Dressel said. “You don’t get that very often, so to be part of that is really special.”

From the nearly empty stands, the cheers from Dressel’s teammates rang through the arena. When he was announced as the Olympic champion, he raised his right arm again as he walked along the deck.

He didn’t want to exert too much energy, not with two more races on his hectic schedule.

Ledecky became the first female swimmer to capture six individual gold medals in her career with another Olympic title in the 800 free, winning with a time of 8 minutes, 12.57 seconds .

Titmus closed strong to claim the silver in 8:13.83, while the bronze went to Italy’s Simona Quadarella in 8:18.35.

“I could see her the whole way,” Ledecky said of Titmus. “I was trying to keep tabs on her and trying to inch my way out a little bit each 50. I knew she was just going to be lurking there the whole time.

Ledecky lost her first two individual matchups with Titmus, but finally beat the Terminator in their final showdown.

“I knew I had to have a little gap,” Ledecky said, “because if we were neck and neck on the last 100, I know she she has that finish.”

Fifteen-year-old Katie Grimes, the youngest athlete on the American team in any sport, finished fourth. She missed out on a medal by just over a second.

Still, she enjoyed the view.

“To be able to watch Katie actually race somebody this Olympics was really exciting,” Grimes said. “We don’t get to see that very often.”

The Australian women did claim another gold.

Kaylee McKeown completed a sweep of the backstroke events with a victory in the 200 butterfly. Her winning time was 2:04.68.

The silver went to Canada’s Kylie Masse in 2:05.42, with another Australian, Emily Seebohm, claiming the bronze in 2:06.17.

Americans Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon finished fourth and fifth.

It’s been a huge Olympics for the Aussie women. They have won six of their team’s seven gold medals at the pool.

In another bummer for the Americans, Simone Manuel failed to advance to the final of the 500 free, her only individual event in these games.

The first Black American woman to win an individual swimming gold posted the 11th-best time in the semifinals and was eliminated, capping a trying year in which she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome.

Dressel advanced easily in the men’s freestyle semifinals with the top final time (21.42).

The mixed medley was another story.

The Americans tried a different strategy than everyone else, going with Dressel on the freestyle while the other seven teams all closed with a woman.

It backfired badly for the U.S., especially when Jacoby — already the only woman swimming the breast — had her goggles mishap.

The 17-year-old struggled to finish in 1:05.09, her goggles dangling from her mouth as the rest of the field pulled away.

“I’ve never really had that happen before,” said Jacoby, who one wears a single cap while most swimmers wear two largely to prevent such a problem. “I was definitely panicking a little. My turn was where it was most rough because I couldn’t see the wall.”

Her teammates praised her effort.

“Anyone that swam with their goggles in their mouth like she did (knows) she did fantastic,” said Ryan Murphy, who took the opening backstroke leg.

When 18-year-old Torri Huske passed off to Dressel after the butterfly leg, the Americans were more than 7 seconds behind the leaders in last place.

That was too daunting even for the world’s greatest male swimmer. Dressel turned in the fastest time, of course, but his 46.99 — actually better than his winning time in the 100 free individual event — wasn’t nearly enough to chase down all the teams ahead of him.

Britain’s team of Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin claimed the gold with a world record of 3:37.58. The silver went to China in 3:38.86, while Australia took the bronze in 3:38.95.

The Americans touched in 3:40.58, also trailing Italy.

Dressel will take part in two more finals Sunday, the last day of the swimming competition at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Dressel was hoping to sweep his six events, which would have made him only the the fourth swimmer and fifth athlete overall to win six gold medals at a single Olympics.

Swimming icon Michael Phelps did it twice, capturing six golds at the 2004 Athens Games before setting the record with eight golds in Beijing four years later.

For Dressel, five golds is the best he can do now.

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