Caeleb Dressel bounced back from a clunker of a swim in the 100-meter freestyle and won for the first time in three events at the U.S. national championships, taking the 100 butterfly Friday night to earn a berth on the team for the Pan Pacific championships.
Dressel, winner of seven golds at last year’s world championships, powered to the wall in 50.50 seconds, fastest in the world this year.
“I’m on the team. That’s what this meet is for,” he said. “I know how much is on the line. I’m setting up the next two years with a race that lasts seconds.”
At Pan Pacs next month in Tokyo, swimmers can compete in any event, so Dressel has a chance to redeem himself in the 100 free, where he was sixth.
“I was absolutely horrible,” he said. “It was a bad swim.”
Jack Conger was second in 51.11, followed by 19-year-old Michael Andrew in 51.68. Andrew led at the turn before Dressel rallied on the second lap.
Dressel finished second in the 50 butterfly on Thursday, but that isn’t a qualifying event for Pan Pacs in Tokyo. He scratched the 200 free on the first night of the meet.
He has three events remaining.
Dressel knows he’s being watched to see if he can back up last year, when he equaled Michael Phelps’ record seven golds at a world meet.