OMAHA: Caeleb Dressel advanced his bid to add Olympic 100m freestyle gold to his two world titles as he posted the fastest time in Wednesday's semi-finals at the US Olympic swimming trials.
Dressel, the multi-event star who has emerged as the face of the US men's team since the retirement of Michael Phelps, stuck a toe in the trials waters with an appearance in the 200m preliminaries. But he scratched out of the semi-finals of an event that was never expected to feature in his Tokyo program.
He was glad to have his qualifying campaign underway in earnest.
"These meets are quite miserable when you're not swimming to be honest. You're left with your own thoughts," Dressel said after clocking 47.77sec to win his 100m free semi-final by one-hundredth of a second over Zach Apple.
"I'm happy with that swim," he said. "I have gotten better every swim, so I have to keep the ball rolling for tomorrow.”
Apple, who finished fifth in the 200m free to put himself in contention for a 4x200m free relay berth in Tokyo, said the 100m free had "kind of been the focus of training" for him all year.
"The 200 free has been on the back burner, so to be fifth there gave me a lot of confidence going into (Wednesday)and (Thursday)."
There was disappointment for 2012 gold medallist Nathan Adrian, who was gunning for a fourth Olympic team after treatment for testicular cancer diagnosed in 2019.
Adrian, who has also become a father in February when he and wife, Hallie welcomed daughter Parker Jacquelyn, was 13th-fastest in the semis to miss out on the final.
"This is such an all-in sport," Adrian said. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stick two good swims out there. I had a really good one this morning. I honestly don't know what happened."
Adrian still has a chance to make the team in the 50m free.