Dressel, Ledecky lead powerful US swim team headed to Tokyo

Jun 20, 2021, 11:50 AM | Updated: 11:59 pm

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — With Michael Phelps five years into retirement, the stage is set in Tokyo for Caeleb Dressel. Katie Ledecky is ready to extend her dominance, competing in four individual events plus relays at the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

They lead a powerful U.S. swimming team that is expected to top the medals standings once again. No world records were set at the eight-day trials that ended Sunday, but the Americans figure to flash their speed with gold on the line.


Dressel made the team in the 50 and 100 freestyles and the 100 butterfly. He could swim in at least three relays in Tokyo, including the new mixed 4×100 medley featuring men and women.

He closed his trials by tying his American record of 21.04 seconds in the 50 free, fastest in the world this year.

“There is plenty we can do to get better and move forward from this,” he said. “This was a really fun meet. I got better with each event. I’m ready to get back in the water with a plan.”

Five years ago in Rio, Dressel won two gold medals as part of relays. Since then, he won 13 gold medals and two silvers at the world championships in 2017 and 2019.

Tabbed as the potential successor to Phelps, Dressel will be under intense pressure and scrutiny in Tokyo.


Ledecky will swim the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles in Tokyo. She’ll be the favorite to defend her 800 title and win the longest race for women — a new event at next month’s games — in which she owns the world record.

But she won’t be favored in the 200 or 400, where Ledecky faces a potential showdown with Ariarne Titmus of Australia. Ledecky surprised herself with times that were not as fast as she had expected in Omaha.

“I don’t think we have to get too caught up in what times people are going here versus anywhere else in the world right now,” she said.


Simone Manuel fought back after missing the team in the 100 freestyle, winning the 50 free on the last night of trials.

Days after revealing she had been diagnosed with overtraining syndrome in March, Manuel gathered enough speed to hold off Abbey Weitzeil by one-hundredth of a second, winning in 24.29.

It was a popular victory, with fans on their feet cheering. Weitzeil was silently cheering as she raced alongside Manuel.

“I saw her right there,” she said. “I was like, ‘Yes! Let’s go! C’mon!'”

Manuel won’t defend her historic gold in the 100 free from Rio, where she was the first Black woman to win an Olympic swimming medal. She’ll be joined in Tokyo by Natalie Hinds, a Black swimmer who made her first Olympic team at 27.

Manuel’s teammates are glad to have her experience and leadership.

“I’m going to do my best to encourage the rookies to go out there and know that you deserve to be here, and you go out there and you race like you deserve to be here,” she said.


Lydia Jacoby is the first swimmer from Alaska to make a U.S. Olympic team.

The 17-year-old from Seward qualified in the 100 breaststroke. This fall she plans to return to return to high school for her senior year after being home-schooled during the pandemic. She has verbally committed to swim at Texas. When she’s not in the pool, Jacoby plays double bass, guitar, piano and sings.


Jake Mitchell made the most of his do-over.

He went too slow in the 400 free to meet the Olympic qualifying standard, finishing second behind winner Kieran Smith in a time of 3 minutes, 48.17 seconds. Usually second is good enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team, but not this time.

Mitchell got a second chance, though.

He swam a time trial in the temporary 50-meter pool all by himself. He went over 2 seconds faster than his previous time, touching in 3:45.86 to punch his ticket to Tokyo. That was good enough to meet the qualifying standard of 3:46.78.

Mitchell, of Carmel, Indiana, recently wrapped up his first year at Michigan, where he was named Big Ten freshman of the year.


Phelps and his 23 Olympic gold medals are retired to Arizona. But the coach who guided him to all that success will be in Tokyo. Bob Bowman has two swimmers on the team: Hali Flickinger in the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley, and 31-year-old Allison Schmitt in the 200 free and 4×100 free relay.


Multiple Olympic gold medalists failed to make the team.

Nathan Adrian, Ryan Lochte, Matt Grevers, Kathleen Baker, Cody Miller, Kevin Cordes and Tony Ervin came up short in bids to extend their Olympic careers. Adrian, who overcame testicular cancer, finished third in the 50 free at age 32, after earning a bronze at the Rio Games. Lochte finished seventh in the 200 individual medley at age 36.

“They left behind some really big shoes to fill,” Dressel said. “It doesn’t just fall on my shoulders. Everyone who is on the team, we’re going to have to pick up the pace, because what they left behind is huge.”


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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, in action against Mallorca's goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic durin...
Associated Press

Vinícius Júnior again targeted by racist insults in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The hate attacks against Vinícius Júnior continued in Spain over the weekend, with the Brazil forward again being targeted by racist insults in a league match. The Spanish league said Monday it will investigate the latest attacks after television images showed someone calling him a monkey during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss at […]
1 day ago
Italy's Federica Brignone speeds down the course during the super G portion of an alpine ski, women...
Associated Press

Brignone leads combined race at worlds; Shiffrin 0.96 behind

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Italian skier Federica Brignone posted the fastest time in the super-G portion of the women’s combined event Monday on the opening day of the world championships, leading defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin by almost a second. Racing under blue skies, Brignone found the fastest line on the Roc de Fer course as […]
1 day ago
FILE - Fans welcome Manchester City players before the start of the English Premier League soccer m...
Associated Press

Man City accused of breaching Premier League financial rules

LONDON (AP) — Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of breaching a slew of financial rules from 2009-18, during which the club became a force in English and European soccer following its takeover by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. The league released a long statement detailing a list of alleged breaches of […]
1 day ago
Field hockey players of a local club attend a training session, in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. ...
Associated Press

Sports pitch for level playing field in cricket-mad Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — On Islamabad’s outskirts, burly men bind together in a scrum on a rugby pitch that has seen better days. The sign bearing the club’s name is worn. The floodlights are too costly to use, given high electricity prices and the paltry $135 total that the club earns in membership fees every month. […]
1 day ago
NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) poses for a photo with the championship trophy after...
Associated Press

Truex wins NASCAR’s sloppy return to Los Angeles Coliseum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won NASCAR’s return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for its season-opening exhibition race — a sloppy Sunday night extravaganza in which the Wiz Khalifa halftime show might have been the most entertaining part of the event. Truex took the lead with 25 laps to go in the […]
1 day ago
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against ...
Associated Press

Morant says friend banned from arena over Pacers dispute

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant tweeted Sunday that a friend of his has been banned from games at FedExForum for a year as a result of a confrontation between his supporters and members of the Indiana Pacers organization a week earlier. The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals have been banned from […]
1 day ago
Dressel, Ledecky lead powerful US swim team headed to Tokyo