Caeleb Dressel leads off 4x100m freestyle relay as U.S. claims gold

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jul 25, 2021

Caeleb Dressel led off and Zach Apple closed the door as the anchor leg as the United States won gold in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay at the Tokyo Olympics.

Dressel's opening leg of 47.26 got the United States into first place position, which the team held for the majority of the race.

France briefly took over the lead at the 150-meter mark, but the United States closed and surged ahead behind thanks to mid-47 legs from Blake Pieroni and Bowe Becker.

Zach Apple's blistering 46.69 anchor leg left no doubt as the U.S. touched more than a second ahead of Italy, who took silver.

Australia claimed bronze after France faded to sixth.

The United States narrowly avoided a mistake that would have cost them not only the gold, but a medal of any color. In the final relay exchange, Apple came within .05 seconds of leaving the blocks before Becker had made his touch.

The gold medal is Dressel's first of the Tokyo Games, where the 24-year-old has a chance at seven total gold medals across three individual events and four relays.

Dressel did not swim in the prelims. Instead, Brooks Curry completed the foursome to qualify for the final before being subbed for Dressel. Typically, relay swimmers who do not compete in the final are given their medals following the event, though Dressel made sure Curry would not have to wait that long. Shortly after stepping off the podium, Dressel handed his medal to Curry, who was in the stands.