By Rod Gilmour
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – American Caeleb Dressel led a series of electric times at the Duna Arena as the world’s top sprinters described Friday morning’s world championship heats as “crazy”.
Dressel, fresh from his sizzling gold in the 100 metres freestyle, posted the third fastest time ever with a punchy 50.08 seconds in the men’s 100m butterfly.
Dressel touched 0.26 seconds outside Michael Phelp’s world record set at the 2009 championships and 1.01 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger, Piero Codia of Italy.
The semi-finals take place later on Friday.
“I thought I was reading the board wrong, it’s the craziest thing,” the 20-year-old told reporters.
In-form Dressel showed no signs of fatigue some 30 minutes earlier as he posted the second fastest time in qualifying for the 50m freestyle semi-finals.
Dubbed the “splash and dash”, Dressel clocked 21.61 seconds, 0.10 seconds behind leading qualifier Bruno Fratus of Brazil.
“It was the best race I could pull off at 9:30 in the morning. I’m pretty glad with that,” said Fratus.
Sarah Sjostrom looked in commanding form as the super Swede advanced to the women’s 50m fly semi-finals, recording 25.25 seconds to take top spot in qualification.
Sjostrom is overwhelming favourite to land gold in the women’s 100m freestyle final later as she attempts to break a milestone barrier for the second time at these championships.
“I will aim to go under 52 seconds tonight but I think it will be impossible to break the world record again,” said Sjostrom.
Kathleen Baker of the United States qualified fastest ahead of local hope Katinka Hosszu in the women’s 200m backstroke semis.
Baker’s compatriot Katie Ledecky had plenty of energy to spare in the women’s 800m freestyle preliminaries as the indefatigable American recorded eight minutes 20.24. Leah Smith of the U.S. was second fastest, 0.55 seconds back.
Australia qualified ahead of Britain for the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay final.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)