TOKYO, Japan — At 9:32 p.m. Eastern time, Caeleb Dressel reached for the wall, and the scoreboard told the story.
Fastest on the planet, without dispute.
The former Clay High School and University of Florida champion achieved swimming history Saturday night, completing the clean sweep of sprints with his 50-meter freestyle victory in Olympic record time at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Dressel left little doubt: Launching from lane four, he touched the wall in 21.07 in the single-length sprint across the pool and entered the history books as Northeast Florida's all-time Olympic medal leader.
Silver medalist Florent Manaudou of France, bronze medalist Bruno Fratus of Brazil and a field of the world's fastest sprinters couldn't chase him down.
Two records, eight hours:Florida's Caeleb Dressel breaks second Olympic record in 100 fly
The 100 free, the 100 butterfly and now the fastest event in the sport — all gold, all coming back to Green Cove Springs.
Never before had one man won all three at a single Olympics. Matt Biondi came closest in 1988 in Seoul, winning the freestyle sprints, only for Bolles School graduate Anthony Nesty of Suriname to edge him out by one-hundredth of a second in the 100 fly.
Dressel joins a short, elite list of American male swimmers to win both three individual gold medals and four gold medals overall at the same Olympics: Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Biondi.
With one event still to come — he teams up with backstroker and Bolles Sharks teammate Ryan Murphy on the United States squad in the men's medley relay later Saturday night — Dressel's feats already rank him high on the list of greatest American Olympic performers.
Dressel already entered the night with three gold medals in Tokyo to go with his two relay golds from Rio de Janeiro.
Since arriving in Japan, he has led off the victorious men's 4x100 free relay; captured the title of world's fastest swimmer in the pool's traditional showcase sprint, the 100 free; and surpassed his own world record in the 100 butterfly, stretching into the wall in 49.45 seconds on Friday night.
His golden summer in Japan further cements his place as the world's most complete and dominant sprinter in the pool, coming off his FINA World Championships in 2017 and 2019. Dressel won seven gold medals at the 2017 finals in Budapest, Hungary, and captured eight — six gold — in 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
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