Gwangju - American
Caeleb Dressel said on Friday he was not aiming to top the remarkable
seven world titles he bagged two years ago, but was focused on
overcoming rival Kyle Chalmers in the 100m freestyle in Gwangju.
Dressel, US swimming's new golden boy, took home seven golds in
Budapest, but will face fierce competition in the men's blue riband race
from Olympic champion Chalmers.
Chalmers is in blistering form after clocking 47.35 in
qualification - almost half a second quicker than his winning time in
the 2016 Rio final.
"I'm not super worried about counting medals or just because I got
seven last time, it means I have to do eight. It's really just about
getting my hand on the wall first," Dressel said.
"He (Chalmers) is a great competitor, I look forward to racing him,
he swims a smart 100m freestyle," he added, describing the Australian as "a
Despite pipping Dressel to the 100m freestyle title at the Pan
Pacific championships last year, Chalmers described himself as the
underdog in Gwangju and said he was happy for all eyes to be on the US
"The more pressure the Americans put on him, the better. It doesn't really worry me," the 21-year-old told Australian media.
"To me, he's just another swimmer. I don't really take in who my
competitors are or been hugely involved in swimming in that regard."
Both swimmers will have one eye on Brazilian Cesar Cielo's 10-year-old world record of 46.91.
But 22-year-old Dressel appeared relaxed and confident on Friday, saying "there's really positive vibes going around everybody".
"I'm around good friends and I do enjoy these champs a lot. I've got cards and plenty of other distractions."
Asked whether he could surpass Cielo's record, he said: "I don't
know, there's a lot of other factors that are out of my control. I'm
going to swim the smartest race that I can but I'm not in control of the
times that show up on the scoreboard."
Much to his dislike, Dressel has drawn lofty comparisons with US swim
legend Michael Phelps after he matched his compatriot's record seven
golds in Budapest - becoming only the second swimmer to do so at a
single long course world championships.
And despite losing out in the freestyle at the Pan Pacifics, he
secured victory in the 100m butterfly, powering to victory in a
Dressel's mind was also on a possible relay spot as the American team battle it out for the four places.
"For me it is a big spot to fill because growing up and watching some
of the studs that were on some of these crazy relays (in Beijing and
London)," he said.
"What a privilege to be in that spot and you do want to be part of that history that the USA has been so dominant with."