American swimming is looking for a new king and believes it has found it in the Florida sprinter, who won six golds in the last World Cup
Australian Titmus threatens Ledecky’s reign in the women’s competition, which opens with the question of Mireia Belmonte
On Similar a new time is opening for Olympism in all senses. Not only for what surrounds the appointment due to the pandemic. Also for the stars that will screen these Games. No one doubts that the American gymnast Simone biles it will be in the center of the spotlight. But there is a huge void behind the withdrawal of two great legends, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, that you need to fill out.
American swimming seeks from Rio to the relay of Phelps and he thinks he found it in single Villaseñor (Green Cove Spings, Florida, August 16, 1996), a giant of 1.92 and 88 kilos, who is considered his natural successor, a force of nature, who only matches his compatriot in 100 butterfly, but whose great virtue is his tremendous explosiveness, while Phelps He was a swimmer with much more versatility (from the 200 freestyle, to the 100 and 200 butterfly or the 200 and 400 strokes).
At the 2016 Games, at just 18 years old, Dressel He has already won two relay gold medals (4×100 styles and 4×100 freestyle). From then on there was his personal explosion, with seven titles in the 2017 World Cups in Budapest and eight medals, with six golds, in the Gwangju World Cups (South Korea) of 2019. He arrives in Tokyo with 24 years and a colossal challenge: three individual events, 500 and 100 free and 100 butterfly and three relays (4×100 free, 4×100 styles and 4×100 mixed styles) with firm aspirations to gold in all.
Two world records
In 2019 he broke the world record of the 100 butterflies he had Phelps from the 2009 Rome World Cup and he also has the free 50, a distance in which he leads the rankings in the last three seasons, which gives him the title of fastest swimmer on the planet. His victory in 50 seems more than feasible, but it will be more complicated in the 100 free against the Australian Kyle chalmers, the defender of the Olympic title in the 100 butterfly against the Hungarian Kirstof Milak champion and world record 200 butterfly.
All these conquests inevitably lead to a search for comparisons. But it can be Dressel the new Phelps? That is not a scenario you want to enter. “The reason I’m in the sport is not to beat Michael, and not swim faster than him, “said the Florida swimmer in a recent interview, aware that Phelps’ legacy, his 23 gold medals, will be very difficult to match not only for him but also for future generations.
The other figure that will focus all eyes on the pool is Katie Ledecky, although for very different reasons. The 24-year-old American swimmer arrives in Tokyo with an ambitious schedule (200, 400, 800 and 1,500 free, as well as relays) and a career already consolidated as one of the best in history with five Olympic golds, 15 titles world records and the world records of 400, 800 and 1,500. In London, Ledeky he became known to the world with only 15 years hanging the gold of 800. In Rio it was incontestable: four finals, four golds (200, 400 and 800 free and 4×200 meters).
“Without a doubt, she is the greatest swimmer in history,” says her compatriot. Rowdy gaines “There is no one who can compare to him for what he has achieved.” But in Tokyo he will meet his nemesis, the Australian Ariarne Titmus, born in Tasmania 20 years ago, which ended a five-year winning streak of Ledeky winning the final of the 400 free in the World Cup Gwangju, and also in conditions to discuss the Olympic title of the 200 free, whose final will be played with just hours of difference from the 1,500 that Ledecky meIt will try to double.
Tokyo is much more difficult for Mireia Belmonte, 30 years old, Olympic champion in 200 butterfly in Rio, which will debut this Saturday with the 400 styles, and will also try to fight for a final in the 800 and 1,500, conditioned by the serious problems she has had to train these last two years due to a tendinopathy in the shoulders, and also aware that right now it is far below in the rankings of the final times, although its capacity for suffering and its competitive nature, force not to rule it out.
MireiaIn any case, it remains the best reference for Spanish swimming in Tokyo, where the relay of the Majorcan’s hand could begin to be seen. Hugo González de Oliveira, champion last June of 200 styles in the European of Budapest and silver in the 100 backstroke, who at 22 years begins to justify the reasons that made him stand out with several world titles in the junior category.
Australian women Cate campbell (500 and 100 free), and Kaylee mckeown (100 and 200 back), the Swedish Sara sjostrom (50 and 100 free) or the Hungarian Katinka long (200 and 400 styles) will be some of the big names in the women’s competition. In the men’s competition you will have to be aware of the Hungarian Kirstof Milak (100 and 200 butterfly), from Japanese Daiya Seto (200 and 400 styles) or Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri (800 and 1,500), among others.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.