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 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.
In one of the longest races of the Games, Bobby Finke of the United States won the 1,500-meter freestyle, his second gold medal in Tokyo after an unexpected win earlier this week in the 800-meter freestyle.
Finke, who was competing in his first Olympics, won in 14 minutes 39.65 seconds.
The final was missing the event’s dominant swimmer over the past decade, the world and Olympic record holder Sun Yang of China. Sun was barred from competing in the Games, or anywhere else, while he serves a four-year doping suspension.
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.