Caeleb Dressel Has Learned a Few Tricks to Further Boost His Performances

Caeleb Dressel: Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Caeleb Dressel Has Learned a Few Tricks to Further Boost His Performances

Caeleb Dressel hesitated for a moment when asked about the lessons he’d learned at the International Swimming League in Budapest.

The two-time Olympic relay champion had described those six weeks in October and November at the Duna Arena as “an amusement park for swimming nerds”.

There’d been world records over 50 free, 100 fly and the 100IM – where he became the first man to go inside 50 seconds – as he claimed the season MVP award with the Cali Condors going unbeaten to lift the trophy.

There are many qualities that form a great athlete – among them a desire to constantly learn and apply those lessons in order to improve with each passing day, week, month, year.

The 24-year-old is always on high alert in and out of the pool, taking notes and storing the information to be shared and broken down with coach Gregg Troy at the Florida Gators.

But he wasn’t going to share those details about what he’d taken from the ISL, telling Swimming World:

“I’m going to be honest – I’m going to have to keep most of them secret.

“I’m sorry – I hate to do it to you but I took some great things back from ISL regarding how I approach certain races mentally (and) the physical side was huge for me.”

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Mike Lewis)

Caeleb Dressel: Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Seconds later though, he said:

“I’ll give you something. I’ll give you a freebie here.

“One of the biggest things was I’d always thought it was beneficial for me to just lay in bed leading up to meets or before races – just rest.

“And those were the days that I just felt horrible – just laying in bed – so I would get up, I’d stretch, I’d figure it out pretty quick because you get instant feedback from meet to meet, from day to day, and race to race.

“The days I was just laying around in bed I’d be hey I feel horrible and the days I would get up, move around, stretch, go to the hotel pool, go downstairs, talk to somebody, walk around the island – those are the days I felt better, my muscles felt more ready to go.

“So I had always had this pre-conceived idea that I’ve got to lay in bed all day to rest my muscles when in reality they need a little something to keep the blood flowing. That was huge.”

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Mike Lewis)

Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS/ISL

Dressel already has 13 world long-course titles in the bank and would reasonably have expected to come away from Tokyo with individual medals to add to his two relay golds from Rio 2016.

Now pushed back until July 2021 due to COVID-19, Dressel will have added even more to his armoury come the Olympics – trusting himself, not over-thinking and with the knowledge that trying something different also results in a positive outcome.

He said:

“Another good one for the mental side is that I do a lot better racing when I shut my brain off.

“The biggest example of that is that every race I would count my kicks and stroke count in the 100 fly.

“Then in the final I said forget this I’m just going to go and not count kicks and not count strokes, I’m just going to go and I’m just going to go based on feel here.

“And I did and it worked out well and I learned a lot from that race in particular.

“The 50 free – I thought I could have been a little better but it doesn’t mean it was a throwaway event because I thought too much in the 50 and I was like I did it again so here’s what not to do.

“There’s no such thing as a bad race unless you don’t learn anything from it but everywhere you looked there was something to learn from, somebody to learn from, somebody to ask a question – a swimmer, a coach, everywhere – it was awesome.

“It was the best thing ever for the sport of swimming.”


Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

When Caeleb Dressel set the 100 fly WR of 47.78, he took 0.30 off the previous record set by Chad Le Clos at the World Short-Course Championships in December 2016.

The South African was the first to embrace Dressel, a gesture he appreciated given he is – in his own words – a sore loser.

“I am. I’ll admit to it. I’ll never be disrespectful to my competitors but I’m a sore loser. With anything.

“I hate some board games – luck-based board games – because they are out of my control and I’ll just go to bed grumpy.

“I’m a sore loser and I’m fine admitting to that: if I have a bad practice I’ll go to bed thinking about what could I have done different, how could I have been better today?

“So it did mean a lot for me for Chad to come up; I know he did it on camera but the one that meant the most to me was when we were in the warm-down pool and he came up to me.

“No cameras, nobody around us – that’s just good old-fashioned respect right there and I really appreciated it.

“That went a long way. I’m one of the young guns in the sport, he has been in the sport (a long time), he’s a veteran.

“I watched him race as a kid and for it to come full circle and for him to genuinely mean that congrats, it meant a lot for me.”


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