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Relief for Dressel as he braces for Paris title defence

Staff WritersAP
Caeleb Dressel has won the US men's 50 freestyle and will defend his Olympic title in Paris. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconCaeleb Dressel has won the US men's 50 freestyle and will defend his Olympic title in Paris. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AAP

Caeleb Dressel has earned his first individual race of the Paris Games, winning the men's 50-metre freestyle at the US Olympic swimming trials.

Dressel, the winner of five gold medals in Tokyo, finished third in the first individual event, the 100 freestyle, which relegated him to the relay at that distance.

But he'll get a chance to defend his 50m freestyle title in Paris after powering to a relatively easy victory in the all-out sprint at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Friday.

Dressel touched in 21.41 seconds, with Chris Guiliano claiming his third individual race in Paris by finishing runner-up (21.69).

Regan Smith will also be swimming three individual events at the Olympics after winning the 200m backstroke.

Smith was under world-record pace through the first two laps, but faded to touch in two minutes 5.16 seconds.

She finished more than a second ahead of Phoebe Bacon, who grabbed the second Olympic spot in 2:06.27 as reigning world champion Claire Curzan (2:06.34) missed out.

Smith previously won the 100m backstroke in world-record time, along with a victory in the 200m butterfly.

"I'm incredibly proud of this performance," Smith said.

"I ran out of gas in that last race, but its been a great meet for me."

It was a busy night for Dressel, who returned about 35 minutes later to compete in the semis of his final event, the 100m butterfly.

He posted the fastest time - 50.79 seconds - to stamp himself as the favourite for Saturday night's final.

Guiliano has emerged as a big star of these trials, and will contest three individual events at his first Olympics - the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle.

Carson Foster will be doubling up in Paris, adding a victory in the 200m individual medley to the title he won in the 400m IM.

Shaine Casas was under world-record pace through the first two laps, but Foster chased him down on the freestyle leg to win in 1:55.65.

Casas grabbed his first Olympic berth by finishing second in 1:55.83 - a huge relief for a swimmer who was billed as a rising star ahead of the Tokyo Games but failed to qualify.

"This means everything," Casas said.

"Since I was a kid, it's all I dreamed about. Now, I won't have to pretend to be an Olympian - I am an Olympian."

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