INDIANAPOLIS — Caeleb Dressel made it to the 50-meter butterfly final but again failed to qualify for the world championships, finishing third at the U.S. nationals on Wednesday night.
Dressel touched the wall in 23.35 seconds in the non-Olympic event, which he won at the last two worlds in 2019 and 2022. He finished behind winner Michael Andrew (23.11) and runner-up Dare Rose (23.20).
Still, it was an encouraging performance by Dressel, who is swimming in his first major meet since taking a lengthy break.
He has two more shots at making the U.S. team for next month’s world championships at Fukuoka, Japan, having also entered the 100 fly and the 50 freestyle.
Other top swimmers are pulling for Dressel to qualify for the team.
“It would be awesome,” said Ryan Murphy, who won the 200 backstroke on Wednesday. “He’s a pretty magnetic personality. He really does help everyone around him.”
Dressel finished 29th in the preliminaries of his first event at nationals, the 100 free. It was a stunning performance from a guy who won five golds medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
On the second night of nationals, the other winners were:
— Murphy took the men’s 200 back with a time of 1 minute, 55.03 seconds to earn his fifth trip to the world championships. The second spot for Fukuoka went to his Cal teammate, Destin Leso, in 1:55.63.
— Claire Weinstein shocked Katie Ledecky in the women’s 200 free by two-hundredths of a second. The 16-year-old touched in 1:56.26, just ahead of Ledecky’s 1:55.28, with both earning a spot on the worlds team.
— Lilly King kept up her dominance in the women’s breaststroke with a victory in the 200. She touched in 2:20.95, holding off Kate Douglass (2:21.22).
— Regan Smith earned her second victory of the championships in the women’s 200 back, going out in world-record pace over the first three laps before settling for a U.S. Open record of 2:03.80. Smith added to her victory in the 200 butterfly, while Rhyan White took the runner-up spot in 2:05.77.
— Luke Hobson held off Olympic medalist Kieran Smith to win the men’s 200 free in 1:45.63. Smith touched in 1:45.63.
— Matt Fallon took the men’s 200 breast title in 2:07.71, with local favorite Josh Metheny (2:08.32) claiming the second spot for worlds.
— Gretchen Walsh touched in 25.11 to take the women’s 50 fly, edging out Torri Huske at 25.33.