Spurred on by the unflappable Kristof Milak, who set the Olympic record in 50.62s and then walked his waxy body and bread face without making any concessions to the photographers, Caeleb Dressel deployed his full weaver's wingspan to put the water in the Tokyo boiling this Friday morning. During the first 90 meters of his 100 butterfly semi-final, the American swam below the all-time record threshold. Without giving the feeling that he was pressing in the last strokes and after an uncoordinated finish, he covered the second length like lightning: 23.20 seconds. He made 49.71s, a new Olympic record in less than 10 minutes and the third best mark of all time. 21 hundredths away from doing what no one did (he holds the world record with 49.50s, achieved in 2019).
Dressel issued the kind of confession Thursday that hides a reverse: "Michael Phelps is a better swimmer than me."
Under the formal cloak of submission to the greatest, the boy from the Florida jungle hides an illusion of surpassing him.
At least for the distances of 100 and 50 meters, an area difficult to access for the phenotype of Phelps, more elongated, more elastic, more adaptable to resistance.
Dressel is known more powerful.
Using explosive gestures, he intends to build a kingdom that transcends, at least in part, the unbearable weight of the idol.
Dressel: "I want to be the best swimmer possible"
Dressel begins to paint the road yellow
Milak breaks Phelps' record of 200 butterflies
Michael Phelps lived his competitive swimming experience like the crocodile in the pond. Between 2003 and 2009 he broke the world record 39 times for the three relay events, the 400 and 200 styles, the 200 freestyle, and the 200 and 100 butterfly. When he left his aquatic residence, the ecological balance had disintegrated. There were hardly any large fish left in the pond. The butterfly was the exception. It is a paradox that the style that defined Phelps is one in which new paths of evolution are opened. The appearance of Kristof Milak and Caeleb Dressel at the 2017 World Cup started an unexpected duel. Since then, the two have cut Phelps' marks by 100 and 200 butterflies in each championship. The Tokyo games represent the culmination of the battle.The meeting point is the 100-meter butterfly that began to be played on Thursday. En route to Saturday's final, Milak and Dressel broke two Olympic records. The denouement of the championship at the Tokyo Aquatic Center coincides with this exploration to the limits of what is possible.
The Hungarian Milak, like Phelps, comes from the middle ground. In 2019 he broke the record of 1m 51.51s that Phelps held in 200 butterfly, a feat that was believed impossible. He trimmed it down to 1m 50.73s. At just 20 years old, that had epic dimensions. His Olympic gold in the distance consolidated his work. In Hungary, Milak is already a hero. But he is not satisfied. He wants to find himself and he has not come up with anything better than going into 100. It is a dangerous country, inhabited by stronger people, men who kick like whips and move hectoliters of water every second in each hand. Milak only seems to worry about Milak.
Milak wears a cement mask.
If you also put on a latex cap and black mirrored glasses, your entire appearance takes on an unfathomable mystery.
In this way, the morning session of the Tokyo pool opened this Friday.
He was not the first to break the mantle of water.
That honor went to Egyptian Ramadan and Israeli Frankel, who finished 14th and 21st respectively.
Milak took it more calmly.
He swam the first pitch in 23.74s, the fourth quarter of the semifinals, and returned as the long distance runners return, gaining momentum until he touched the wall in 50.31s.
The size of this brand can only be understood in historical terms.
Phelps, with the monkey
Phelps did his best times in 100 butterfly with polyurethane suits.
The twilight of the rubber, around 2010, coincided with his progressive abandonment of training.
His best mark without a waterproof swimsuit was 50.70s, in 2011. Milak, hardly looking forced, waving between air and water in search of the least resistance, agile and light, did 50.62s.
He gave the impression that he was ready to fly lower than the 50.18s he did at the May European Championship.
Caeleb Dressel got the message.
In the next semi-final, the American made his statement.
He swam the first set in 23.20s, reserving more than usual, and nailed the comeback in 26.51s.
His second fastest length ever.
The day he set the world record at 49.50s he came back at 26.67s.
It is possible that Milak is hiding a few grams of fuel to try to strike the blow.
The 49.71s of his rival recalls that if the final were decided exclusively by organic force, the gold would correspond to Dressel, the only man who has dropped from 50 without a waterproof swimsuit, and the only one who shows symptoms of approaching the border that he himself pointed out before the pandemic.
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