Dressel a threat to Schooling's crown
American rising star set to pose biggest threat to Schooling's 100m fly title defence at Tokyo Olympics
Exit Michael Phelps, enter Caeleb Dressel.
Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling was tipped to dominate the 100m butterfly event after his Olympic triumph last year and the retirement of American legend Phelps.
But, such is the United States' production line that a new rising star is turning heads at the Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Dressel, 20, has emerged as the biggest threat to Schooling's aim to retain his 100m butterfly crown at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The American clocked a stunning 50.08 seconds to top the 100m fly heats at the Danube Arena yesterday afternoon, a full second ahead of second-placed Piero Codia (51.09sec) of Italy.
Schooling, who won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal with a Games record of 50.39sec in Rio last year, qualified fourth-fastest for the semi-finals with 51.21sec, while his teammate Quah Zheng Wen placed 18th with 52.13sec.
Dressel's timing in the heats is the world's fastest-ever in a textile race suit.
Only Phelps, who owns the world record of 49.82sec, and Milorad Cavic (49.95sec) have clocked faster times than Dressel, but the pair did it in the now-banned "super suits".
After his race yesterday afternoon, Dressel said: "I thought I was reading the board wrong, it's the craziest thing."
Schooling, who learnt of Dressel's timing in the call room before his own heat, said: "It is fast, that is a solid time... I don't think anyone of us expected that, so it was a shocker.
"I am pumped to race him and tonight should be fun."
The two swimmers raced in separate semi-finals early this morning (Singapore time).
Should the duo perform to their potential, they should square off in the final at the Danube Arena in the wee hours tomorrow morning.
While Dressel made his name in freestyle events in the past few years, he started making waves in the butterfly events only this year.
He dethroned Schooling to win the 100-yard fly at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming competition this year with a 43.58sec swim, the fastest ever in that event.
There had been doubts about the American's abilities in long-course meets - NCAA competitions are conducted in short-course pools - but Dressel obliterated them at last month's US Nationals with a 50.87sec swim, the world's fastest this year before the World Championships.
Dressel has already bagged three gold medals at the World Championships, after winning the men's 100m freestyle final in 47.17sec yesterday morning (Singapore time) to add to the triumphs with the US' 4x100m freestyle and mixed 4x100m medley relay squads.
Meanwhile, Quah bemoaned missing out on a semi-final spot for the third time with his 18th-placed finish in yesterday's 100m fly heats.
The 20-year-old US-based swimmer had also finished 18th in the men's 200m fly and the 100m backstroke earlier in the meet.
Only the top 16 from these three events progressed to the semi-finals.
"Eighteenth again, I honestly don't believe it... it's back to the drawing board for me," said Quah, who will compete in the men's 50m back heats, his last event, today.
"It's definitely very annoying for me, especially since it's the third time here.
"This (the 100m fly) wasn't my main event, so I would say that even though I was 18th again, I was definitely more disappointed with the 200m fly."