Chaotic waters: US stars win, but Dressel won’t get 6 golds

CORRECTION_Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_09482 CORRECTS TO RYAN MURPHY NOT JAMES GUY - Caeleb Dressel, of the United States, left, talks with teammate Ryan Murphy after they finished fifth in the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_81880 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, greets Kristof Milak, of Hungary, after wining the gold medal in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Milak won the silver medal.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_80524 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_48496 Caeleb Dressel, of the United States, swims to victory during the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_98211 Caeleb Dressel, of the United States, left, talks with Britain's James Guy after the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_08179 Florent Manaudou, of France, swims in a men's 50-meter freestyle semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_13405 James Guy, of Britain, and teammate Adam Peaty celebrate winning the gold medal in the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_06444 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, looks at the board after finishing a mixed 4x100-meter medley relayat the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_99710 Yan Zibei, of China, swims in the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_07417 Kathleen Ledecky, of United States, shows her gold medal after winning the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_18002 Kathleen Ledecky, of United States, poses after winning the gold medal in the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_37261 Adam Peaty celebrates winning the gold medal in the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_52564 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, swims to win the gold medal in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_27796 Kathleen Ledecky, of United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_33621 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, poses after winning the gold medal in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_71967 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, finishes a men's 50-meter freestyle semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_63551 Katie Ledecky, of the United States, swims to the gold medal in the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_16349 Kaylee Mckeown, of Australia, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 200-meter backstroke final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_56160 Caeleb Dressel, of the United States, swims to win a men's 50-meter freestyle semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_37945 Kathleen Ledecky, of United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_92127 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, celebrates wining the gold medal in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_05785 Kaylee Mckeown, of Australia, embraces teammate Emily Seebohm after winnning the gold medal in the women's 200-meter backstroke final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_72573 Kaylee McKeown, of Australia, swims in a semifinal heat of the women's 200-meter backstroke at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_84510 Caeleb Dressel, of United States, starts the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_42939 Caeleb Dressel, of the United States, swims to victory during the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_56117 Kaylee Mckeown, of Australia, celebrates after wining the women's 200-meter backstroke final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_56608 Kaylee Mckeown, of Australia, swims in the women's 200-meter backstroke final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_33728 Kathleen Ledecky, of United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_18465 Katie Ledecky, of the United States, starts the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_89720 Caeleb Dressel, of the United States, swims in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
APTOPIX_Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_07417 Kathleen Ledecky, of United States, shows her gold medal after winning the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_48980 Kathleen Ledecky, of the United States, left high-fives teammate Katie Grimes after Ledecky won the women's 800-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo_Olympics_Swimming_58656 Britain's mixed 4x100-meter medley relay team, Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin, poses after winning the gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
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TOKYO (AP) — Caeleb Dressel is pretty much invincible when he has a lane to himself.

But give him a deficit of more than 8 seconds?

Well, that’s too much for even the world’s greatest swimmer to overcome with two laps of the pool.

On a morning of mixed emotions and chaotic racing at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Dressel set a world record in the 100-meter butterfly, but was basically doomed before he even dove into the pool on the new mixed relay Saturday.

So went his chances of joining a very exclusive club. His bid to win six gold medals fell apart with another U.S. relay debacle. The Americans were too far behind in the 4×100-meter mixed medley when their top swimmer took over, so the best Dressel could do was rally the U.S. to a fifth-place finish in an event that features two men and two women on each team. Britain set a world record to win the gold.

“Fifth place is unacceptable for USA Swimming,” Dressel said. “It stings.”

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.

After Dressel won his third gold of the games, 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.

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.”

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.

“He’s going to put me out of a job one day, so I’m just trying to hang on as long as I can,” Dressel said. “Kristof executed perfectly. We both swam exactly the race we needed to.”

The Australian women added another gold.

Kaylee McKeown completed a sweep of the backstroke events with a victory in the 200. 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 50 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.

For the second time at these Olympics, the U.S. failed to win a relay medal, joining a fourth-place finish in the men’s 4×200 freestyle. Before Tokyo, the Americans had never failed to finish in top three of an Olympic relay they entered.

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.

The Americans faltered when 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby — already the only woman swimming the breaststroke leg —had her goggles knocked off on her dive into the water.

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 8.01 seconds behind the leaders in last place.

Dressel furiously tried to cut into the huge gap. His 46.99 leg was better than his winning time in the 100 free individual event, but it wasn’t nearly enough to chase down all the teams ahead of him.

“Everyone swam as well as they could in the moment,” Dressel said. “We got beat by a better team.”

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.

Dressel touched in 3:40.58, also finishing behind Italy.

He 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, who has two more races on the final day of swimming, five golds is now the best he can do.

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Paul Newberry is an Atlanta-based national writer and sports columnist covering his 14th Olympics. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

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More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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