Two-time Olympic Champion and 13-time World Champion Caeleb Dressel is in the spotlight with the Tokyo Olympics around the corner. The 24-year-old is the first American to break the 40-second mark in the 100m freestyle, along with 8 other American records. These records, among many other impressive feats, throw up the question: What makes Caeleb Dressel the fastest swimmer on the planet?
Caeleb Dressel specializes in short sprint events where the start is a very important aspect of the race and that is exactly where he excels. After observing his starts over the years, his widespread success can be attributed to a few distinct features.
Caeleb Dressel's winning formula
Caeleb Dressel is the kind of swimmer who would be unhappy with a training session in which he puts in anything less than 100%. His success comes from rigorous training and striving for perfection. Dressel focuses on technical aspects such as keeping his hips high, slingshotting off the blocks and strong up-kicks.
Speaking about Dressel's preference to keep his hips high, Jason Calanog, who is is one of the swimmer's coaches, said:
“This elongates the hamstring and gets the leg ready to fire.”
Caeleb Dressel has made it a habit to lean back and then launch forward. This negatively affects his reaction time off the block, but the sheer force and acceleration helps him break the water further ahead and gives him an advantage. The first 15 meters are always a defining part of Caeleb Dressel’s performance.
Caeleb Dressel’s dolphin kick is also stronger than most swimmers as he uses the up-kick as much as the down-kick. Meanwhile, most swimmers just use the up-kick as a resetting feature for their down-kicks.
Caeleb’s coach Gregg Troy has labeled the American swimmer a perfectionist:
"He listens and true listening requires the talent to change the tiniest angle in the water or the position of your toes perfectly on the starting blocks and then fly down the po0l,” says Gregg Troy, Caeleb Dressel's coach.
It’s a running joke that swimmers can’t function very well on land and most of their workout is in the water itself. Caeleb Dressel, however, breaks this stereotype as he strengthens his legs on land to fly off to a perfect start off the blocks. He is often praised for his athleticism, which is not common amongst swimmers, and has helped him become the fastest swimmer in the first 15 meters.
Analyzing Caeleb Dressel's World Record splits
At the 2018 NCAA Championships, Caeleb Dressel broke three different barriers in 3 separate events. He managed a sub-18 time in the 50m freestyle, finished under 43 seconds in 100m butterfly and below 40 seconds in the 100m freestyle finals.
The analysis of his 50m freestyle (short course) record-breaking sprint produced some interesting findings.
Caeleb Dressel jumped off the block in 0.63 seconds, which was impressive considering his entry was also the farthest. He proceeded with 6-7 strong dolphin kicks underwater, broke the surface ahead of the rest of the field and completed the first 25m in 8.48 seconds.
For the second 25m, he took only 9.15 seconds and managed to cover the distance with just 8 strokes. He completed the entire 50 meters without drawing a single breath, which is quite common among elite swimmers.
These findings show that the “next Michael Phelps” is only going to improve with time. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will be an exciting watch as records are expected to be broken.