Caeleb Dressel won his fourth gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, sprinting to victory in the 50-meter freestyle to open a frantic final day of the swimming competition at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Dressel, diving into the lead and never giving it up — or taking a breath — finished in 21.07 seconds, an Olympic record that was only 16 hundredths of a second off the 12-year-old world record in the event.
Florent Manaudou of France finished second in 21.55 seconds, and Bruno Fratus of Brazil (21.57) came in third.
With his teammates cheering him from the stands, Dressel exploded off the block and never faltered. When he learned that he had won, he flexed his left biceps and then hustled out of the pool to prepare for a relay later in the program.
Dressel entered the pool having already won three gold medals at these Games, in the 4×100 freestyle relay, the 100 free and the 100 butterfly. His time in the 100 butterfly, 49.45 seconds, was a world record.
In the day’s second race, Emma McKeon of Australia emerged from a highly competitive field to take gold in the women’s 50 free, her sixth medal — three golds and three bronzes — of the Tokyo Games. McKeon finished with a time of 23.81 seconds, an Olympic record.
McKeon had started the day knowing that a top-three finish in her two races — the 50 free and the 4×100 medley relay — would make her only the second woman, after the Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya in 1952, to win seven medals at a single Olympics.
Sarah Sjoestreom of Sweden came in second place (24.07 seconds), and Pernille Blume of Denmark, who won gold in 2016, took third (24.21). Abbey Weitzel, the only American in the final, finished last.
The two short, explosive races then gave way to one of the longest of the Games, the men’s 1,500-meter freestyle. Bobby Finke, 21, of the United States won his second gold medal at these Games by prevailing in a three-man showdown with Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine and Florian Wellbrock of Germany.
Finke hung close for most of the race and then slingshotted into the lead on his final turn, leading his rivals to the wall. He finished in 14 minutes 39.65 seconds, a body length ahead of Romanchuk (14:40.66) and Wellbrock (14:40.91).
“I was just trying to hold on and get my hand on the wall,” Finke said.
Finke, who was competing at his first Olympics, won the men’s 800-meter freestyle on Thursday.
The final was missing the event’s dominant swimmer over the past decade, Sun Yang of China, who holds the world and Olympic records. Sun was barred from competing in the Games, or anywhere else, while he serves a four-year doping suspension.
The crowd of American swimmers in the stands blew air horns and whistles and chanted, “Let’s go, Bobby!” as Finke emerged poolside before the race. Heading into the final 200 meters, Finke was part of a group of three — alongside Wellbrock and Romanchuk — far ahead of the pack. Then, on the final lap, he showed his prodigious closing speed to claim the gold.
His victory, and Katie Ledecky’s in the women’s event, gave the United States a sweep of the grueling 30-lap swimming marathons, the longest races in the competition.
The session was to end with two exciting medley relays. The American women won gold in the 4×100 medley relay at the 2016 Games, but they expected to face potentially overpowering competition here in the form of Canada and Australia.
The men’s 4×100 medley relay is the final swimming event of the Tokyo Olympics, and there is history on the line. The American men have won gold in every Olympics they have competed in. (They did not participate in 1980, when the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics.) But they enter the race as underdogs, with Britain, which qualified with the fastest time (3:31.47), and Australia looking the strongest out of the field.