Caeleb Dressel Dives Into History With 46.96 Pioneering Sub-47 To Fend Off Kyle Chalmers 47.08 (VIDEO)

Caeleb Dressel of the United States of America (USA) celebrates after winning in the men's 100m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 25 July 2019.
Caeleb Dressel celebrates an historic win - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Editorial content for the 2019 World Championships coverage is sponsored by FORM Swim Goggles. See full event coverage. Follow FORM on Instagram at @FORMSwim #swimwithform FORM Swim-Logo

World Swimming Championships (Caeleb Dressel, Kyle Chalmers)


Day 5 finals (Men’s 100m freestyle)

The world record survived. Just – 46.91 in shiny stands but the new standard in a textile suit went below 47sec for the first time in history as defending champion Caeleb Dressel held off Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers 46.96 to 47.08 in a blistering there-and-back-battle.

Starts count. Reactions too: 0.61 to 0.71 the respective difference between those split by 0.12 by the time gold and silver were settled. Dressel, of the USA, won it off the blocks, Chalmers, of Australia, left the whole way to claw back a surreal dive deficit. As the American gathered speed between 15 and 20m into racing, Chalmers’ fingertips were level with Dressel’s hip.

Feet on wall at 22.29, Dressel revelled in a thunderous lead of precisely half a second on Chalmers, Brazil’s Marcelo Chierighini still in the fight on 22.58.

The Australian king of Rio 2016 is in the form of his life, that much was clear as he chased down Dressel along the length of a 24.29 lap. He almost got there but the American was not to be denied and with one long, last lunge kept the crown in the fastest swim ever seen, barring the best clockings in shiny suits, the death of which was announced in Rome 10 years back this week.

  • 22.29; 24.67 – 46.96 – Dressel
  • 22.79; 24.29 – 47.08 – Chalmers

So, 46.96 American record ahead of 47.08. Thoughts, Mr. Dressel?

“Its very exciting. I know I was just off the world record but really the goal was just to swim the best race that I could and if that was the time I got tonight I was happy with that.”
  • Cesar Cielo, 46.91; Alain Bernard, 46.94 – and now Caeleb Dressel as the swim pioneer who took the 100m pace below 47sec for the first time. In textile, Chalmers is now third best, behind the 47.04 of fellow Dolphin and Rio 2016 finalist Cameron McEvoy. All suits, Chalmers, who set his career best two efforts this season heading into world titles ranks fifth with his new high bar.

Caaleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers congratulate each other as they soak up their speed – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Dressel knows that a more perfect race is ahead of him and smells blood on the record he intends to own one day: “There were probably some things I could have cleaned up tonight that I’ve done in the race and kind of refocusing.

“I am extremely happy with it. It took 100% effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race and shut off thinking about the race and just think about racing. So that helped a lot having Kyle right there. I am excited with it: I thought it was something I was capable of and to see it up on the scoreboard was pretty special.”

Asked if he felt he could improve, he said: “Sure. That is the beauty of the sport.” The rest of life, too, he added, rich the detail that can be tweaked and honed and sharpened and shaved with an end to being the best Caeleb  Caeleb can be.

“You get done with the race and I’m happy with it and then time goes by and you know what you can do to get better. So I am going to talk to Gregg Troy and I can guarantee the first thing he’s going to say is we could done better. I’m totally fine with that and that is why we work well together. There is always something you can improve on – it’s not just swimming, it’s day to day stuff, just getting better every day in and out of the pool. Certainly there were things I cold have cleaned up in that race: coming off the second wall I was pretty sloppy on the breakout, I am the first one to be honest.”

(From top) Winner Caeleb Dressel of the United States of America (USA), second placed Kyle Chalmers of Australia and third placed Vladislav Grinev of Russia compete in the men's 100m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 25 July 2019.

Poetry in motion: Caeleb Dressel, nearest, and Kyle Chalmers, on the way to gold and silver in 46.96 and 47.08 – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Dressel’s win marked the seventh for the USA in 19 times of asking since it all began in 1973. It was the second sub-47 triumph and the first in textile at the World Championships, while Dressel’s third gold and fourth medal overall at the meet so far added the sprinter to what had been a one-man club of Americans who retained the crown. The first was Matt Biondi in 1991, after his debut gold in 1986.

In Budapest two years ago, Dressel left his blocks like a bat out of hell, bolted down the Duna Arena pool to a 22.31 split feet on the wall: 0.02sec faster today and much better home. The American built a winning margin on the way home to a 47.17sec victory in Hungary that fell just shy of the biggest gap between champion and rest in the history of two-lap battles back to 1973.

Biondi had held on to the record of biggest win by a slither: his 0.79sec defeat of Stefan Caron (FRA) dates back to Madrid 1986.

Dressel’s victory here today was clenched by a much tighter margin and while Chalmers chased him down, the work in a product of coach Gregg Troy’s no-nonsense, tough-love regime was critical to keeping Chalmers at bay. The bronze went to Vladislav Grinev, of Russia, in 47.82. Chalmers has been working on staying the course for the 200m, too – and that’s paying dividends at the back-end of his 100m. The gold and silver of today will take home valuable lessons and insight for coaches from the see-saw of their thrilling duel this day.


Caeleb Dressel Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Battle Fuels Tokyo 2020 Rivalry, Says Chalmers

Chalmers, who in domestic racing this year laid down his best two career efforts – 47.35 and 47.48 – was delighted with his knock at history’s door but first paid plaudits to Dressel:

“That was an exceptionally fast and special swim. I gave it my absolute all tonight. 47.0 is a very quick time. I couldn’t really believe it when I saw that and then to see Caeleb go 46.9, which is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s really positive for me leading into Tokyo next year.”

Asked if the thriller here at the Nambu pool would fuel the whole rivalry between the two, Chalmers said: “I think it does, we both swam pretty well tonight. We’ve had three good races over the Olympics, Pan Pacs and now Worlds.”

Gwangju 2019:

1 DRESSEL Caeleb United States of America USA 46.96
2 CHALMERS Kyle Australia AUS 47.08
3 GRINEV Vladislav Russian Federation RUS 47.82
4 PIERONI Blake United States of America USA 47.88
5 CHIERIGHINI Marcelo Brazil BRA 47.93
6 NEMETH Nandor Hungary HUN 48.10
7 MIGNON Clement France FRA 48.43
8 CORREIA Breno Brazil BRA 48.90

How The Shiny Suits Of Rome 2009 Rule The Freestyle Waves 10 Years On

There’s a mistaken view that the impact of shiny suits has faded far enough to forget. Heres reality:

In Rome a decade ago, seven of the eight finalists clocked 47+, last man home in 48.01. The Foro Italico final remains the fastest ever. Cielo took gold in the 46.91 world record that lived to fight another day after Dressel’s bullet missed its mark by a breath today. Bernard took silver in Rome on a European record of 47.12 after an earlier faster effort of his had been discounted because his shiny suit was the wrong kind of FINA approved shiny.

Cesar Cielo

There had never been an Olympic final nor a World-title fight in which more than four men cracked 48sec. Today, five did – and the winner below 47. The back end of battle prevented the race from being the swiftest ever in textile:


Caeleb Dressel – the fastest 100m man ever unassisted by a suit – Kyle Chalmers to his right- Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Range (top 8):

  • 46.96 – 48.90 Gwangju 2019
    47.17 – 48.26 Budapest 2017
    47.84 – 48.31 Kazan 2015
    47.71 – 48.58 Barcelona 2013
    46.91 – 48.01 Rome 2009

The Top 100 all-time, all suits performances list (multiple entries per swimmer is a fascinating realm, yet: 7/10; 15/20; 30/50 and 54/100 – the numbers of shiny suits performances still afloat.

Now at No 100: the 47.84 that 200m champion Yannick Agnell – in Gwangju commentating for French TV – clocked in the final of the London 2012 Olympic Games for fourth place 0.04sec shy of the podium. On the textile list, that swim is No47.









Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Laura Mendez Berry
4 years ago

Jennifer Naae Albanese

Paul Anthony
4 years ago


Ferenc Mihaly
4 years ago

SUPER Performances!!!!!?????

Kara Muscillo
4 years ago

Well this pose looks familiar. Kim Pfarrer DiJoseph

Kim Pfarrer DiJoseph
4 years ago
Reply to  Kara Muscillo

Kara Muscillo he’s growing on me…maybe because of these familiar poses. Lol

Alyss Lange
4 years ago

Damn! That’s fast!

Shawn Cowper Daniels
4 years ago

Jack Beachboard

Morgen Hawkins
4 years ago

Kit De Jonge

Kit De Jonge
4 years ago
Reply to  Morgen Hawkins

Morgen Hawkins it was insane

Thomas A. Small
4 years ago


Benoit Delattre
4 years ago

Michael Pili

Neil Rogers
4 years ago

Both these swimmers represent what is great about swimming at the moment, superb athletes both about to lower the world record from the fast suit era,pretty certain one of them will in next 12 months

Kakat Baldivino Fernandez

Wow!! Grabeha ani nila oi Karl Rowel ?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x