Dressel retains 100m freestyle gold, Australia smash relay record to beat Ledecky's USA

Caeleb Dressel defended his 100 metres freestyle gold with a superb performance at the World Aquatics Championship on Thursday.

The American held off Australia's Kyle Chalmers to win in a time of 49.96 seconds - the fastest by a swimmer in a textile suit and just 0.05 off the world record.

The 22-year-old, who won seven gold medals at the championships in 2017, claimed the 50m freestyle earlier this week and was part of the United States' victorious 4x100m freestyle relay team.

"It's very exciting," he said. "I know I was just off the world record. Really the goal was just to swim the best race that I could.

"I am extremely happy with it and it took 100 per cent effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race, and kind of shut off thinking about the race and just think about racing.

"It helped a lot having Kyle right there. To see it pop up on the scoreboard was pretty special."

Thursday saw a return to action in Gwangju for Katie Ledecky, who withdrew from the 200m freestyle due to illness this week.

The five-time Olympic champion produced a strong swim but could not drive USA to victory in the 4x200m relay, as Emma McKeon's storming last leg saw Australia claim gold in a world-record time of 7:41.50. The US quartet took silver.

Daiya Seto, who came second in the 200m butterfly on Wednesday as Kristof Milak broke Michael Phelps' world record, won Japan's first gold in the men's 200m individual medley ahead of Jeremy Desplanches and defending champion Chase Kalisz.

American Olivia Smoliga sprang a surprise, winning the women's 50m backstroke final in 27.33, ahead of 2017 champion Etiene Medeiros.

The 24-year-old Smoliga is already preparing for a challenge at next year's Olympics after benefiting from some simple lifestyle changes.

"I'm just glad it's all coming together going into 2020," she said. "I'm just eating a little bit healthier, little things like that. Not eating fast food or staying up late."

Hungarian Boglarka Kapas produced the shock of the day, though, winning the women's 200m butterfly final in a race in which the top six were separated by just 0.9 seconds.

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