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Caeleb Dressel came away with two wins and plenty of fine-tuning to do on day two of the Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, California, on Friday with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon.
Dressel, who has added 13 world titles to his resume since winning two Olympic relay golds at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, is gearing up for a multi-event campaign at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games.
The world record-holder and two-time defending world champion in the 100m butterfly, Dressel snatched a victory in the 100m fly in 51.61sec, edging Guatemala's Luis Martinez (51.77) to add the victory to the 200m freestyle win he posted earlier.
While Dressel characterized his 100 fly as "not very good," he was confident there was plenty of room for improvement before the US Olympic trials in Omaha in June.
"I thought I held technique together pretty well," Dressel said. "It didn't hurt that bad, which is a sign that I should have made it hurt worse and gone faster."
The double, however, made it a solid day, Dressel said.
"It's just about racing right now. That's the most important thing, not going for a time," he said after winning the 200m free in 1min 47.57sec.
Andrew Seliskar was second in 1:47.69 and Jordan's Khader Baqlah was third in 1:47.93.
Dressel said he had no trouble getting revved up for the finals raced in the morning session, to mimic the schedule in Tokyo where the format will be flipped from the usual morning heats and evening finals.
"You get used to the sun going down and you're in finals mode, getting that mindset ready that you're 100% effort, you're going to sacrifice your body," he said, but added that the switch "wasn't as different or as weird as I thought it was going to be mentally and physically.
"Finals is finals and it doesn't matter what time of day it is," Dressel said.
That was apparent in freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky's 200m free victory in a 2021 world-leading 1:54.40.
She was faster than the 1:54.70 posted by China's Yang Junxuan last month, notching the second-fastest time of her career after a 1:53.73 to win gold in Rio.
"I'm very happy with that time and feel good about what I've been doing in training," Ledecky said. "It's nice to see it starting to pay off."
Olympic gold medallist Lilly King didn't let the "kind of weird" morning finals hinder her in a 100m breaststroke victory in 1:05.70.
King, who owns the world record of 1:04.13, was 38-hundredths of a second slower than she was in Thursday night's heats, but said it was "definitely the fastest I've ever been not in a night finals swim."
Like Dressel, King thought she was right on track for trials and Tokyo.
"I've never been this fast in-season as consistently as I have this year," she said. "Under 1:05.9 three times in the last two weeks -- I'm pretty excited for it."