What’s In Store For Caeleb Dressel?

caeleb dressel
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Dylan Evangelista, Swimming World College Intern

Caeleb Dressel has been a man on a mission thus far in 2017.

Between smashing American records at this years NCAA championships and posting the No. 1-ranked 100 fly in the world during the U.S. National Championships, he certainly has had his hands full.

Despite coming off a stellar short course season at Florida, there was some skepticism revolving around Dressel’s ability to transition to the long course side of the sport. All those doubts were laid to rest last week as he made his abilities in a 50-meter pool well known.

Competing in five individual events total, Dressel topped the podium in three of them.

His victories in the 50 fly and 50 free showed promise in his long course abilities, as well as his 100 free in which he broke the 48 second barrier for only the 3rd time in his career (the other two times were during the preliminaries and semifinals in Rio).

However, no swim showed greater promise than his victory in the 100 fly.

In a field that showcased some of the United States’s top butterflyers like Jack Conger, Tim Philips and Tom Shields, Dressel took the gold by nearly half a second. In doing so, he clocked the fastest time in the world this year with a blistering 50.87, leaving Chad le Clos ‘51.29 in the dust.

*NOTE* Joseph Schooling posted the 2nd fastest time in the world with a 50.96 this past Saturday at the Speedo Southern Sectionals in Austin, Texas. Watch here!

If this years National Championships proved anything, it was that Dressel is a force to be reckoned with in more than just sprint freestyle.

Another impressive swim for Dressel was his 200 free where he dropped a personal best of 1:47.45 in the prelims. He went on to finish sixth during finals, giving him the opportunity to claim a spot on the 800 free relay in Budapest.

While he has a ways to go, this event could very well become a part of his typical meet regime.

When asked why he wanted to swim the 200 in a post-race interview, Dressel responded by saying:

“I think this can be a good event for me. I just need more practice with it, but I don’t want to limit myself. I know my limitations, but I don’t want to limit what I can do. I don’t want to be labeled as a speed guy that goes out wicked fast and just dies, I want to be a speed guy who knows how to control and swim his races correctly.” 

While it’s an event he has moved away from during his time at Florida, Dressel showed real promise in this event during his high school years, he even holds the 15-16 national age group record of 1:48.64 set back in 2013. With a shift in his training, and his raw freestyle talent, Dressel could be a serious threat in this event in the next few years.

While most would claim that his track record strictly indicates that he is a sprinter, he has the potential to excel at more than just 50 and 100-meter races.

Aside from freestyle and butterfly events, Dressel is also a strong breaststroker, and IMer.

His sophomore year he dropped a 51.88 in the 100 yard breast mid-season! That time alone would have not only won him the SEC title, but it would have allowed him to finish 3rd at NCAA’s had he opted to swim it.

While his best long course time only stands at a 1:02.26, it is from 2015 National Championships.

Could Dressel be a serious contender in this event if he geared his training towards it?

Granted, there is A LOT of breaststroke talent for the United States, so perhaps this goal is a bit far fetched. Having said that, if Dressel improves his breaststroke, maybe there is a chance he could come on as a strong competitor in the 200 IM.

He clearly possesses the raw speed and all-around stroke talent to be a competitive IMer. If he can learn to unleash his breast and backstroke abilities in a long course pool, there is no reason why he couldn’t make a run at being one of the best 200 IMers in the U.S.

Keep in mind that this is all speculation, and Dressel has not publicly expressed any desire to pursue these events on a world stage. However, with some of these possibilities in mind, the question becomes this:

Could Caeleb Dressel swim seven or eight events on a world stage (relays included)?

Dressel is set to swim the 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, 100 fly and possibly two or three relays at this years World Championships. Having to swim six or seven events at this level is a challenge he has not yet faced. His performance in Hungary will gave us an idea if he can handle this heavy workload against the best in the world.

If he rises to the occasion at the end of the month, what does that say about his Olympic future? A lot can happen in three years of training, and if he can start to seriously compete at the 200-meter distance events, his itinerary for Tokyo 2020 could very well change.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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5 years ago

Future superstar??

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5 years ago

Here, take my like