Chad le Clos highlighted his class becoming the first male swimmer to win four consecutive 100m butterfly world short-course titles in Hangzhou, China on Thursday.
The victory earned Le Clos his 10th world short-course gold medal and extended his overall tally to 13.
It would have been a sweet victory for Le Clos, who surrendered his 200m butterfly title and the world record to Japan’s Daiya Seto on the first night of the global showpiece.
The world record holder was under severe pressure as he went up against rising American star Caeleb Dressel.
But the South African removed any doubt of who the winner would be as he turned at the halfway mark well ahead of Dressel.
Dressel launched a strong second 50-metre swim but by this time Le Clos held a healthy lead to claim the victor in a time of 48.50 seconds.
The American had to be content with the silver medal with a time of 48.71 with China’s Li Zhuhao bagging the bronze in 49.25.
“It was the biggest race of my short course career, I was up against the best field by far and this was the main event of the whole week,” Le Clos said.
“I am very grateful I got the gold [as] it was a tough race. I was anxious because I was waiting the whole day for this, the whole week and the past three months because I knew this one could come.”
It was an overall good night for South Africa with top female swimmer Erin Gallagher featuring in the100m freestyle final and Rio Olympics finalist Brad Tandy qualifying for Friday’s 50m freestyle final.
Gallagher finished eighth in the 100m final with a time of 53.14 stopping the clock 0.05s short of the SA record she posted in the semi-finals.
Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo touched first in a time of 51.14 to claim the title in a championship record.
Tandy produced a quality swim in his 50m freestyle semi-final finishing third in his race with a time of 21.07.