2023 U.S. Trials Previews: Can Dressel Make a Comeback in the Men’s 100 Butterfly?



Since 2017, the men’s 100 butterfly has been dominated by one name on American soil: Caeleb Dressel. The current world record holder in the event, Dressel has won this event at every US Trials meet since the 2017 US International Team Trials, becoming a staple on every roster. However, with Dressel just recently returning to competition following a several month long hiatus from swimming, the field looks as open as it has in several years.

The Dressel

The Knowns

As the defending Olympic Champion, current World and American Record Holder, and the reigning US Trials Champion, Dressel has been at the top of the World Rankings in this event for years. Over this undisputed run of dominance in this event, Dressel has left little doubt about his ability to get his hands to the wall first. In any normal year, this event would be a runaway for him, as his best time ranks almost a second clear of any other active American swimmer.

The Unknowns 

As previously mentioned, Dressel took several months off after his early departure from the 2022 World Championships last summer, just recently getting back into the pool. At the Atlanta Classic about a month ago, his first meet since the World Championships, Dressel clocked a time of 52.41. His swim was almost three seconds off of his best time, and only ranks him as the 8th-fastest American this season. He later entered the 100 butterfly at the FAST Senior Open a few weeks after the Atlanta Classic, but scratched everything except the 100 freestyle.

However, if Dressel has proven one thing over the course of his career, it’s to never doubt his ability to get his hand to the wall first. It’s likely that some of the swimmers ranked ahead of him, like Ryan Murphy, will not be swimming this event at Trials, increasing his odds of making it back to the World Championship stage. Though there’s still doubt about whether he even swims the event at Trials, given his current circumstances, he’ll have a shot if he does. It’s also entirely possible Dressel forgoes this event all-together, opting to stick to the freestyle events and the Team USA relays.

The Challengers

The Veterans

Aside from Dressel, there’s a swarm of veteran talent in this event lined up to take a shot at the top two.

Shaine Casas currently leads all Americans this season with his time of 50.80 from the Pro Swim Series stop on Ft. Lauderdale, making himself the only American to go under 51 seconds this season. Casas holds a best time of 50.40 that he swam at the 2022 US National Championship just a few weeks after the World Championships. Though he didn’t qualify to swim the event at Worlds, his time would have been good for a silver medal in the event. Without much focus in the 100 butterfly leading up to the 2022 US International Team Trials, Casas left himself, undoubtedly, with a potential medal still on the table.

Since moving to train with the Texas Longhorns, Casas has proven himself to be a force in the long course pool. However, he still lacks the international medal record to show for it. The interesting point to examine for Casas will be his event lineup, as he has the potential to compete for individual spots in the 100 fly, 100 back, 200 back, and 200 IM, along with a relay spot in the 100 free. Fortunately for Casas, all of these events occur on separate days, minimizing his potential for conflicts. If he decides to pursue the 100 fly, Casas is the favorite to take one of the two spots at the World Championships, leaving the others to battle with the aforementioned Dressel.

At the same Pro Swim Series stop that Casas’ 50.80 came from, Michael Andrew dropped a 51.80 to make himself the third-fastest American this season. Andrew holds a best time of 50.80 from 2021, matching Casas’ season-best time. Given that Andrew was on-fire during the 2021 Olympic Trials, where he didn’t even swim the 100 butterfly, his ceiling in the event is potentially much higher than his personal best indicates. He was the second US representative in this event at last summer’s World Championships, alongside Dressel, after qualifying for the team via his time of 50.88 at Trials. Recently, Andrew has been sticking to the 50 events and the 100 breaststroke a little more than usual, leaving his status in this event in the air. If he enters it, he’ll certainly be in the mix though.

There’s also a group of 200 butterfly specialists who could make a push here, including Trenton Julian, Luca Urlando, and Zach Harting. For Urlando and Harting, the question will be whether they elect to swim the event at all as Urlando is coming off a shoulder surgery and Harting has been more focused on solely the 200 butterfly in recent years. At last summer’s World Championship Trials, Urlando placed 5th in this event (51.76) and Harting placed just behind him in 6th (52.23), certainly keeping the pair in contention. Out of the three, Julian appears to have the best odds of qualifying for the team in this event after finishing 3rd at the US Trials last year with a 51.10, just .3 off of qualification. Julian has been as fast at 52.15 this season, ranking just ahead of Dressel as the 7th-fastest American.

Another name to watch for is Nicolas Albiero, who won the B-final at last year’s World Championship Trials with a 51.96, which would have finished 6th in the A-final ahead of Harting. Drew Kibler finished 7th in the final last year, but given the depth of the 200 freestyle field this year, he appears to be shifting his focus to his primary events.

The Newcomers 

Though he’s competed at several junior-level international meets for the USA, Dare Rose has never qualified for a senior-level US International Roster. This could certainly be his year to do so. Rose, who qualified for his first US National Team this year, currently ranks as the 2nd fastest American this season with his 51.47 from the Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo. The Cal swimmer narrowly missed qualifying for the World Championships last year, finishing 4th at Trials with a 51.40. Even if he doesn’t make the World Championships roster, Rose looks primed to challenge for a spot on the LEN U23 Championships and Pan American Games Rosters.

Two juniors to watch are Thomas Heilman and Kaii Winkler, who rank as the 10th and 11th-fastest Americans this season with their times of 52.55 and 52.64. Both swimmers are only 16-years-old, and have shown a ton of potential over the past few years. Heilman, in particular, has been a force on the National stage, breaking NAG records all over the place. Last year at the Junior Pan Pac Championships, Heilman dropped a new 15-16 NAG Record of 51.96 in the 100 butterfly, becoming the youngest swimmer to dip under the 52-second barrier. Winkler has also shown great improvement in the long course pool recently, swimming some of the fastest sprint freestyle times in 15-16 age group history, including a NAG record in the 15-16 100 freestyle. Given their ages, Winkler and Heilman still seem to have plenty of potential for improvement on their times, with even more potential to make the jump to the senior level.

NCAA swimmers Brendan Burns (Indiana), Aiden Hayes (NC State), and Luke Miller (NC State) are also in contention here, given their top-ranked times in the SCY version of this event. Out of the three swimmers, Miller holds the fastest LCM time this season with his 52.06 from the 2022 US Open, which ranks him as the 6th-fastest American this season. Gabriel Jett, another NCAA athlete, has recently made waves in the 200 butterfly. Jett finished 3rd in this event at US Nationals last season with a 52.19. Though he hasn’t been swimming this event as consistently as the 200 butterfly, Jett could add it to his lineup for Trials and make a push for an international team berth..

SwimSwam’s Picks:

Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Caeleb Dressel 52.41 49.45
2 Shaine Casas 50.80 50.40
3 Dare Rose 51.47 51.40
4 Michael Andrew 51.80 50.80
5 Thomas Heilman 52.55 51.96
6 Trenton Julian 52.15 51.10
7 Gabriel Jett N/A 52.17
8 Nicolas Albiero 52.51 51.96

Dark Horse Pick: Daniel Diehl Primarily known for his backstroke prowess, Diehl is another age-group swimmer with a strong 100 butterfly. At the Indy Sectionals meet back in March, Diehl dropped a personal best of 53.03 in the event, slicing a half second off of his personal best. Given the potential for limited conflicts with the backstroke events, Diehl could opt to swim this event at Trials. If he does, watch for him to be in contention for one of the US international rosters, in addition to his potential to qualify for the team in the backstroke events.

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10 months ago

Casas #1

Snowpipers of Alaska
10 months ago

With Caeleb’s current trajectory and massive time drop between prelims and finals in this event this spring, it’s likely we’ll see a time on the order of 47.1 seconds at Trials. 46.8 at Worlds, challenging Popovici’s 100 FR WR.

10 months ago

Related to this UVA just announced their first commitment for 2025 and from what I’m aware of the first of any swimmer for the class. And T Heilman liked the photo. Might not mean anything but you never know.

10 months ago

I’m sure if he puts all his effort into swimming he can do whatever.
The break can be a good thing. No one can grind year round for years on end.

10 months ago

Who cares. Whoever qualifies is going to win. USA guaranteed to go 1-2 in 100 fly and probably 5 fly too. USA!

Reply to  StarsandStripes
10 months ago


10 months ago

Off topic, but Annie Lazor was named an assistant coach at University of Florida.

10 months ago

Will Caeleb Dressel even bother to show up?

10 months ago

I feel like Dressel is capable of going sub 51. MA is kinda in a weird spot I don’t think he swims this since it’s not a 50

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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