Caeleb Dressel Makes Post-Olympic Racing Return, Posts Impressive Quadruple at ISL in Naples

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Mike Lewis)
Caeleb Dressel -- Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Caeleb Dressel Makes Post-Olympic Racing Return, Posts Impressive Quadruple at ISL in Naples

At the Tokyo Olympics, Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals, becoming just the third man after Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps to win individual gold in three different races. When he finished that meet, Dressel suggested he needed a break, and he spent the better part of August traveling the U.S. for media and sponsorship commitments and vacation. But as the 2021 ISL season kicked off this week in Naples, Italy, Dressel was there and in the pool, maybe not racing at absolute top form but putting up strong times and, of course, winning.

Match 2 opened up Saturday with Dressel earning comfortable victories in both the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle, and he led his Cali Condors to two relay wins, the 400 freestyle and 400 medley. At last year’s ISL final, Dressel set short course meters world records in both of those individual events along with the 100 IM (while just missing the WR in the 100 free), but if he is to go after more records this season, that likely won’t come until the playoff round or possibly even the final. Like the majority of swimmers in Naples who just swam in Tokyo, he is not arriving in tip-top shape by any stretch.

But while Dressel has turned himself into the best swimmer in the world in long course, he has been a dynamite performer in short course for even longer, going back to his years of dominance on the NCAA level (in short course yards) during his time as a Florida Gator. He doesn’t need to be perfect to be really, really good during this ISL circuit.

Saturday, Dressel was actually in fifth place at the halfway point of the men’s 100 butterfly, 0.35 off the pace set by the LA Current’s Tom Shields. But Dressel was merely relaxing on the way out, and his second 50 split of 25.56 was almost a second faster than anyone else. He recorded a 49.03 to win the event for the Cali Condors by more than six tenths.

In the 50 free, Dressel’s world record stands 20.16, and he swam a 20.86 Saturday to earn himself a three-tenth triumph over the LA Current’s Vladislav Bukhov (21.18), and Dressel’s Cali teammate Justin Ress was just 0.01 behind in third (21.19).

The Cali Condors then dominated the 400 free and 400 medley relays. Dressel anchored the 400 free relay in 46.03, the top split in the race, and then he swam butterfly on the medley relay and split 49.03.