By Peter Rutherford
GWANGJU, South Korea (Reuters) – Caeleb Dressel showed no signs of slowing down at the world swimming championships on Wednesday after the American delivered the year’s fastest time in the 100 metres freestyle heats.
Dressel, who two years ago matched Michael Phelps’ record of seven world titles at a single championships, has already pocketed gold in the 4×100 relay and the 50 butterfly in Gwangju and there will be plenty more opportunities to add to his haul.
“It felt good. That was kind of how we wanted to swim it: just out controlled and then come home well,” said the 22-year-old, who finished in a time of 47.32.
“You’ve got to get better each race so same thing with the fly, just got to improve on different parts of the race going through the meet. It’s a long meet and I’ve got to pace it.”
Russian Vladislav Grinev was second fastest, 0.60 behind Dressel, while Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers qualified in 10th place for the semi-finals in 48.66.
Britain’s Duncan Scott returned to the pool a day after his podium snub to China’s Sun Yang prompted governing body FINA to issue him a warning.
Sun is swimming under a cloud in Gwangju with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) set to hear a doping case against him in September and his presence at the world championships in South Korea has been the source of controversy.
On Sunday, Australian Mack Horton refused to share the podium with Sun after the Chinese swimmer won the 400 freestyle while other athletes have been highly critical of FINA over the doping issue.
Australia’s Mitch Larkin said Horton and Scott deserved praise not a warning for taking a stand on such a big stage.
“It’s not like a disrespect or a lack of sportsmanship at all. You know they’re truly the most courageous guys and I couldn’t be more proud of both of them,” he said.
China’s Fu Yuanhui tabled the quickest time in the women’s 50 backstroke heats, the 2015 champion touching in a time of 27.70, 0.15 seconds ahead of Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros, who beat Fu to the title in Budapest two years ago.
In the women’s 200 butterfly, American Hali Flickinger went through as the top seed in a time of 2:05.96, ahead of Hungarian duo Boglarka Kapas and Liliana Szilagyi.
In the last event of the early session, the United States topped the mixed 4×100 medley relay (3:41.23) ahead of Australia and Russia.
(Additional reporting by Joori Roh, Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)