T&T's Dylan Carter will face a star-studded field in his first-ever appearance in an A-final of the 2022 FINA World Long Course Championships when he lines up in the men's 50 metres butterfly splash at the Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, from 12.48 pm on Sunday.
In the eight-man gold medal swim, the 26-year-old Carter, a silver medallist for T&T in the men’s 50m butterfly at the FINA World Short Course Championship last December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and bronze in the same event in China in 2018, will go after gold against Great Britain's Ben Proud, USA's Caeleb Dressel, Italian Thomas Ceccon, USA's Michael Andrew, Hungary's Szebasztian Szabo, Singapore's Tzen Wei Teong and Brazilian Nicholas Santos.
This after Carter, the former University of Southern California stand-out qualified as the sixth fastest overall in the semifinals after he placed third in the second and final semifinal in 22.98 seconds, his second time under 23 seconds, behind Proud who won in 22.76, just .01 shy of his personal best and British Record of 22.75, set back at the 2017 World Championships when he won the gold medal, to be the top qualifier while Ceccon clocked 22.79 for the joint-second fastest in the heats, the same as heat one winner Dressel.
Ceccon, broke his Italian Record for the second time after he clocked 22.88 in the preliminary heats.
The quintet of Teong (23.03), 42-year-old Santos, the fourth-fastest swimmer in history and winner of three straight medals in this event at the World Championships, narrowly squeaked into the final with the eighth-best time at 23.04 after he placed fifth, while Holland's Nyls Korstanje (23.14), Switzerland's Noe Ponti (23.29) and Ukraine's Andrii Govorov (23.50), the world record holder at 22.27 completed the competitors in Carter's semifinal.
In addition to Dressel, Andrew (22.87) and Szabo (22.91) qualified for the semifinal one while the quintet of France's Maxime Grousset (23.10), Austrian Simon Bucher (23.18), France's Florent Manaudou (23.23), Estonia's Daniel Zaitsev (23.38), and Poland's Konrad Czerniak (23.50).
Earlier on Saturday morning in the heat, Carter picked the right time to have a great swim, getting under 23 seconds for the first time in his career to establish the top time of the morning in a new personal best and national record of 22.87, the first time a T&T national had gone under the 23 seconds mark in the event on his way to winning heat five with the fastest time of all swimmers.
The winner of this country’s first-ever Commonwealth Games swimming medal Carter's previous lifetime best in the 50m butterfly was 23.11 which he did at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in 2018 and over the past month, he also equalled the time at the Aquatics Sports Association of T&T (ASATT) Pan American Aquatics Age-Group Trials held in Balmain, Couva and also swam 23.18 and 23.15 in Monaco during the Mare Nostrum Series.
Luxembourg's Julien Henx was second in the heat with 23.69 and joint 26th overall followed by Greece's Marios Stergios Bilas (23.72), China's Jiajun Sun (23.83), New Zealand's Cameron Gray (24.01), Korean Jihun Kim (24.02), Ghana's Abeku Jackson (24.11), Mexico's Jorge Iga Cesar (24.13), Paraguay's Ben Hockin (24.38) and Indonesian swimmer, Glenn Sutanto who touched in 24.
Dressel (22.88) was the second-fastest of the top 16 qualifiers overall after he won heat seven ahead of Ponti (23.04), Proud (23.08), and Govorov (23.34) while Ceccon topped the eighth and final heat in 22.88 with Szabo (23.11), Manaudou (23.31), Saitzev (23.38), Santos (23.46) and Teong (23.51) the other qualifiers from his heat, and Andrew was fourth fastest in the heats after he won heat six in 22.89 followed by Grousset (23.07), Korstanje (23.27), Bucher (23.51), Czerniak (23.53) and Codia (23.53).
With Czerniak and Codia both swimming 23.53 in heat six for the joint 16th best time, there was a swim-off, which the former won in 23.38 to Codia's 23.40.
Two years ago at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Carter finished eighth in heats of the 50m butterfly in 23.33 before he clocked 23.37 for the sixth spot in one of two semifinals and 13th spot overall.
Following today's final, Carter will also compete in the men’s 100m freestyle on Tuesday, June 21 from 3 am (TT time) with the semifinals sets for 12.26 pm and the final on June 22 from 12.22 pm while he will also face the starter in the 50m freestyle on June 23 from 3 am with the semifinals carded for 12.42 pm, and the final a day later from 12.09 pm.
In South Korea, he also competed in the 100m backstroke and along with Simone Sabbioni of Italy had wedge equipment malfunction during their starts.
Officials required Carter and Sabbioni to re-swim the race alone, one at a time after the malfunction was ruled due to the wedge apparatus failure if they wanted to compete in the semifinals.
In his re-swim, Carter advanced to the semifinals with his time of 54.03 seconds in the 16th spot to qualify for the semifinals and also placed 16th overall with a time of 54.08 seconds after the semifinals.
A multiple NCAA champion with the University of Southern California Trojans, Carter also placed 41st in the 50m freestyle in 22.65 and was 12th best in the 100m freestyle in 48.22 after he placed 16th in the heats in 48.77;
Following the FINA Championships, Carter is expected to fly the national colours at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in July/August and then the FINA World Short Course Championships in December.
T&T's other competitor at the championship, Cherelle Thompson will leave on Monday for Hungary ahead of competing in the women’s 50m freestyle on June 24 from 9 am, with the semifinals carded for 12.17 pm, and the final, June 25 from 12.47 pm.