TOKYO — Caeleb Dressel got his first individual gold medal and the Chinese women put together a record-setting relay Thursday during Day 6 of the Tokyo Olympics.
Dressel, America’s successor to Michael Phelps, won the 100-meter freestyle in an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds — a mere six-hundredths ahead of defending champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia. That gave him a fourth career gold medal, with three previous ones coming in relays.
“It is a lot different. I guess I thought it would be, I just didn’t want to admit to it,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher. You have to rely on yourself, there’s no one to bail you out.”
Dressel later set an Olympic record in the semifinals of the 100-meter butterfly.
Dressel will be a big favorite in Saturday morning’s final, though he could get pushed by Milak. The Hungarian already won the 200 fly with a dominating victory.
The most dramatic race of the day came when China surprised the U.S. and Australia with a world-record performance in the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay.
Katie Ledecky took the anchor leg for the Americans in third place, nearly 2 seconds behind the Chinese and also trailing the Aussies.
Ledecky passed Australia’s Leah Neale and closed the gap significant on China’s Li Bingjie, but couldn’t quite catch her at the end.
Li touched in a world-record 7 minutes, 40.33 seconds. She also set an Olympic record in winning the 200-meter butterfly before the relay.
Also in swimming, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker set the first individual swimming world record at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
On another busy day at the pool, Evgeny Rylov completed a backstroke double and Emma McKeon gave the mighty Aussie women another gold.
Schoenmaker, a 24-year-old South African, won the women’s 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2 minutes, 18.95 seconds, breaking the mark of 2:19.11 set by Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona.
It was the third world record at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, with the first two coming in women’s relays.
Russia’s Rylov thoroughly snuffed out America’s dominance in the backstroke, adding the 200 title to his victory in the 100 back.
Rylov won with an Olympic-record time of 1:53.29, while American Ryan Murphy wound up with the silver (1:54.15).
Murphy was a double-gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he extended an American winning streak that began at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The U.S. won 12 straight men’s backstroke events over six Olympics, but that streak ended with Rylov’s victory in the 100. He made it 2-for-2 in the longer race, while Murphy settled for bronze and silver in the two events.
Britain’s Luke Greenbank grabbed the 200 bronze in 1:54.72.
McKeon touched first in the 100 freestyle with an Olympic-record time of 51.96, becoming only the second woman to break 52 seconds in the sprint.
Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey earned the silver in 52.27, while another Aussie, Cate Campbell, took the bronze in 52.52. American Abbey Weitzeil was last in the eight-woman field.
The Australians now have won four individual women’s events at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, in addition to setting a world record in a 400 free relay that included both McKeon and Campbell.
The Americans claimed the other two medals behind Schoenmaker.
Lilly King set a blistering pace early in the race and held on for a silver in 2:19.92, adding to her bronze in the 100 breast. Annie Lazor nabbed the bronze in 2:20.84.
In rowing, Canada won the rowing women’s eight gold medal. They stormed to an early lead, then held off New Zealand over the final 200 meters to win.
The victory ended American dominance in the event. The U.S. had won three consecutive Olympic gold medals but fell to fourth at the Sea Forest Waterway. The Americans were dropped by the leaders early and were never in medal position for the entire race.
China finished third for the bronze medal.
In women’s beach volleyball, Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman have moved on to the knockout round after having just a little bit of trouble against the Netherlands.
Starting in a drizzle and finishing in a downpour, the No. 2 seeded Americans lost the opening set of the match 22-20. It was the first set they have lost in the Tokyo Games. They trailed 12-9 in the second before scoring four straight points and seven of the next eight to take it 21-17.
In the tiebreaking set, they pulled away to beat the winless Dutch pair of Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink 15-5.
The victory gave the four U.S. beach volleyball teams — two men’s and two women’s — a 9-1 record in these Olympics. Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne (2-0) play their final match of the round robin on Friday night. Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes (2-0) finish up against Brazil on Saturday morning. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are good for at least one more match after finishing the preliminary round 2-1.