2018 M. NCAA Day 3: Dressel’s Throwing Down Free Times on Butterfly

by Robert Gibbs 7

March 23rd, 2018 News


Caeleb Dressel continued to do what should be unthinkable tonight, as he put the 100 yard butterfly into a whole new plane with a 42.80 effort.  Just how fast is that?  Well, this tweet by former Cal Bear Seth Stubblefield caught our eye earlier this evening:

We did some digging, and sure enough, during Stubblefield’s freshman year, 2012, a 42.80 in prelims at NCAAs would have been good enough to make the A-final of the 100 freestyle.  Now, it looks like times may have been slower that year, perhaps to swimmers putting more emphasis on the Olympics and tapering less for NCAAs, but even allowing for that, it wasn’t all that long ago that a 42.80 was regularly scoring in the 100 free at NCAAs.

Here’s a list of where a 42.80 would get you in the 100 free over the past decade or so…

  • 2017 – 23rd
  • 2016 – 18th
  • 2015 – 21st
  • 2014 – 22nd
  • 2013 – 10th (prelims)/ 7th (finals)
  • 2012 – 6th (prelims) / 8th (finals)
  • 2011 – 12th (prelims) / 13th (finals)
  • 2010 – 10th (prelims) / 7th (finals)
  • 2009 – 12th (finals)

Dressel’s butterfly time tonight would’ve surpassed the American Record in the 100 freestyle until March, 1981, when a certain Rowdy Gaines lowered his own record from 43.08 to 42.62.

Of course, as Stubblefield pointed out, a 49.69 100 breast is a pretty fast time as well.  The USA Swimming database lists the first 100 free American Record as a 48.90 in 1956, so we suspected that a 2018 Ian Finnerty swimming breaststroke against a 1950s freestyle field would’ve been pretty competitive.

Perhaps even more impressively, Finnerty’s time tonight was faster than the 100 back record as recently as 1977, when the legendary John Naber took that record from a 49.85 to 49.58.  Sure, that was before flip turns and starting ledges, but to give you a little perspective, the American Record in the 100 breast stood at 55.19 and held by Scott Spann.

Other Day 3 Observations & Thoughts

  1. Indiana has not faded, and in fact has extended their lead.  Right now, it’s still looking it’ll come down to Cal, Indiana, and Texas on the final day, meaning that every swim is going to be a big swim for those three teams.
  2. As several comments have pointed out, four different teams (NC State, Florida, Indiana, and USC) have won relays, and none of them have been Cal or Texas.  If neither the Bears nor the Longhorns pull out the win in the 400 free relay tomorrow, it’ll be the first time since 2013 that neither of those juggernauts have accounted for a relay victory.
  3. Texas may have a recruiting advantage over many other schools, thanks to lot of top-notch in-state recruits, but so far, five of Texas’s 11 scorers hail from Virginia.
  4. You got to love Gunnar Bentz‘s tenacity, as the Georgia senior has kept his All-American streak alive in the 200 IM and 400 IM, despite having sat out the beginning of the season with a broken collarbone.
  5. Townley Haas‘s 3rd-straight victory in the 200 free puts him in pretty rare company.  Only Cal’s Matt Biondi (1985-1987), Arizona’s Ryk Neethling (1998-2000) and Simon Burnett (2003-2006) previously won the 200 free in three straight years, while Gustavo Borges of Michigan won three times non-consecutively (1992, 1994-1995).  If Haas wins again as a senior, he’ll be the first man to pull off the four year 200 free sweep.
  6. Jacob Molacek continues to display his versatility on NC State’s medley relays.  Yesterday he swam free in the prelims of the 400 medley relay before jumping over to breast in finals.  Today he again he swam free in the prelims of the 200 medley relay, then swam fly in finals.
  7. According to the USA Swimming database, Coleman Stewart of NC State moved up 13th all-time in the 100 fly with his 44.84 today.  He was already 5th in the 100 back (44.54), and it appears he joins Matt GreversTom Shields, and Albert Subirats as the only men to break 45 in both strokes.

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Steve Nolan

“(Stewart) was already 5th in the 100 back (44.54), and it appears he joins Matt Grevers and Tom Shields as the only men to break 45 in both strokes.”

Because everything is always about Baeleb, if you instead looked at it as <90s for the two combined, Dressel'd only need a 47.2. Lol.

running start to touch backstroke flags

Excellent perspective. Thanks for the breakdown…


Albert Subirats also went sub-45 in the 100 fly and 100 back at 2007 NCAAs…also in Minnesota. Sick underwaters. And in an old Nike jammer, I believe.

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