He’s Done It: Caeleb Dressel Goes Under 19 Seconds at Just 17 Years Old

When Caeleb Dressel went a supposed 19.0 in practice a few months ago, even for those who didn’t necessarily believe the watch 100%, there was some salivation going on.

Now, it’s time to drool. The 17-year old¬†Caeleb Dressel has destroyed the 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 50 yard freestyle, swimming an 18.94 at just 17 years old. He’s now the first 18 & under swimmer (American or not) to go under 19 seconds in this race. This swim broke the 19.29 that he’s done twice: once at the Florida High School 2A State Championship meet in November, and once in prelims in the individual 50 yard free.

It’s not entirely uncommon to see 17-year old girls enter the ranks of ‘all-time greats’. Missy, Ledecky, Hoff…there’s been a few in that rare air in the past few years. But for a 17-year old male, especially a sprinter, to have a spot in any sort of ageless ranking is unbelievable.

That time by Dressel would have placed 2nd at last year’s NCAA Championship meet.

Now, Dressel now ranks 15th on the all-time, any-age list in the 50 yard freestyle. He becomes just the 19th person to break 19 seconds in that race – a ‘golden celebration’ of sorts. With another tenth-of-a-second drop (he’ll have one more shot at this race int he 50 free final later in the session), he’d move up to a tie for 8th with Jimmy Feigen.

Vlad Morozov is the second-fastest junior swimmer in the history of this event at 19.06; Seth Stubblefield is the second-fastest junior meeting the criteria for a NAG Record with a 19.41.


  1. bobo gigi says:

    Congrats champion.

  2. DCOL says:

    Congrats Caeleb!!! Awesome!!!

  3. Liliana says:

    Just 17? Ian Thorpe was multiple Olympic champion at 17, so let’s put this into some perspective. Phelps was World champion and WR holder.

    • Johnny says:

      Dressel competes in races that are primarily dominated by
      older swimmers. For example, there was only one junior swimmer in
      the 100 free semi finals at the 2012 olympic trials. To crack 19 as
      a still developing high school swimmer is something unheard of,
      even with legends like Phelps and Thorpe out there.

      • Nick says:

        Yeah John, you are right. Liliana, instead of beating down what this kid just accomplished, be happy for him and stop comparing him to someone that swam in a different decade than he did.

    • Elite-o-meter says:

      I agree – why hasn’t he broken any World Records or won any
      Olympic golds yet?? Caeleb Dressel: NOT ELITE.

      • NDB says:

        You are right elite-o-meter! Since when has being the fastest Junior sprinter ever been grounds to call someone elite?! Such and over reaction to call a 17 yo male who just became the 15th fastest 50 freestyler in history elite. High School boys always do stiff like this.

        • Triguy says:

          I agree, plus it’s only yards. I mean most elite swimming countries outside America don’t really care about yards at all

        • Rafael says:

          It was impressive..

          But the definition of “world” is too small on this..

          He already have done remarkable things on LCM.. but he is not the best junior freestyler yet after what McEvoy did already..

    • Flyin' says:

      Something Phelps and Thorpe didn’t do: swim the fastest junior 50 free in the world. And the best by nearly a half-second in the US, a half-second!!!!!

    • Austin says:

      Don’t feed the troll!

  4. don says:

    I thought I was seeing things and actually did a double take, just unbelievable.Wish he would have picked Cal.

  5. coacherik says:

    Gee, Lilie. Thanks for the perspective.

  6. Steve Nolan says:

    Holy crap that’s seriously the 15th fastest swim in the event EVER!?

    I always just thought his times from this year would make like, a run at finals at NCAAs. But hoooooooly crap.

  7. Ian D Jev says:

    From the looks of the picture, it was done in a relay. I’m
    not an expert swimmer, but aren’t the times different with relay
    starts compared to individual race starts? Unless he was the first
    to start the relay.

  8. GoGators says:

    It was a flat start (relay lead-off), so it counts. It was
    sub-19. He’s 17. In conclusion, it was one of the best juniors
    swims ever.

  9. DutchWomen says:

    Was a lot of fun to watch…kid has some serious power. I wonder how Troy is feeling right now? Does a coach of his age with his experience feel a bit of pressure when top level recruits come in such as Dressel and his 18.94? The UF staff has their work cut out for them – where do they go from 18.94? The UF sprint program will be under a microscope for the next 4 years – a good problem to have in our sport!

  10. bobo gigi says:

    Next goal for Caeleb Dressel this week is to swim 42 low in the 100 free.

    For next summer in long course, sub 22 in the 50 free and 48.50 in the 100 free.
    And more important, a qualification in the US 4X100 free relay team for Kazan 2015.

  11. SEMPRE AVANTI says:

    Sadly, the nearly as impressive 19.54 that is posted in the
    next lane is completely overlooked/overwhelmed by Dressel’s

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