Anthony Nesty Gives Status Update On Caeleb Dressel After He Misses Worlds Team

On Saturday afternoon, University of Florida head coach Anthony Nesty talked to the media following the conclusion of day five preliminary heats at the 2023 U.S. National Championships. Some of the topics he addressed included the performance of pro swimmers Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky, as well as Florida swimmer Emma Weyant‘s DQ in the women’s 400 IM.

On Dressel

Nationals was Dressel’s first major swim competition following his withdrawal from the 2022 World Championships due to non-COVID-related medical reasons. He was well off his best times and did not qualify for the 2023 U.S. World Championship team, finishing 19th in the 100 free (49.64), 3rd in the 50 fly (23.35), and 5th in the 100 fly (51.66). He also swam the prelims of the 50 free (22.72) but will scratch finals.

Despite not performing at his best, Nesty says that Dressel is in a much better place than he was a year ago. Leading up to Trials, he wanted to make sure that Dressel was ready to go mentally and physically, and kept in touch with Dressel’s therapist.

“He’s very happy where he’s at now. Now we have a starting point and we can go from there,” Nesty said of Dressel. “Obviously he wanted to do better, but for us, it’s just posting times that he could improve upon.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen him happy swimming in a long time, and a happy athlete is a fast athlete. Obviously, he’s not fast yet, but under the circumstances where he’s at, he did some good times.”

Nesty says that Dressel came back to training in late February. During Dressel’s first two weeks of training, he was only swimming three practices a week. Every two weeks, he would add one more practice to his weekly schedule until the first week of May, when he began swimming eight times a week up until Nationals. Nesty said that Dressel “didn’t have anything to rest from” before Trials because of his time off from swimming.

According to Nesty, Dressel can keep up with other swimmers on his start, but he struggles to close his races—which is a product of not being in the weight room for a long time.

“He lacks power,” Nesty said. “He’s mentally where he needs to be, physically, not yet. But his strokes are good. He’s felt good in all his strokes, so that’s a good thing.”

“[Dressel] has always done a good job taking care of his body first and foremost, and when you take care of your body, you will get longevity in the spot. He looks pretty good physically and now we just need to get a full year of training and weights in and he’ll be okay.”

Dressel will likely not be swimming at any competitions until fall of 2023, and will be spending his summer in the weight room and continuing to practice. In the meantime, his primary goal is qualifying and competing at the Paris 2024 Olympics next year.

“That’s a good chunk of time to get his strength back. He’s a married man and has a lot of animals to take care of, so he’s gonna do that all,” Nesty said. “Barring injuries, he’s good and he’s happy to start the grind,”

However, Nesty was hesitant to address the specifics behind why Dressel withdrew from Worlds last year.

“Nothing surprises me anymore, it’s the nature of the beast,” Nesty said after being asked about whether he was surprised that Dressel decided to pull out Worlds. “When you’re the face of U.S. swimming on the men’s side, that adds extra pressure. We got the call that he couldn’t go—it’s as simple as that. When someone is having difficulty, you’ve got to take of that individual, and the USA Swimming staff, the coaches, and the athletes were all supportive.”

“Mental health is a serious issue and everybody deals with it differently. But we’ve turned the corner, and I’m happy to see him back where he used to be.”

On Weyant

Nesty was also asked about Emma Weyant‘s disqualification from the prelims of the 400 IM, which was due to fly kick on the breaststroke leg of her race. Weyant had the second-fastest best time in the nation in the 400 IM, and the event was her best shot at qualifying for the 2023 U.S. World Championships team. She was also the defending Worlds bronze medalist and Olympic silver medalist in the event.

“DQs are never fun, because these athletes put in so much time, effort, and energy into their swims,” Nesty said. ” But it is what is. It’s not our call, it’s their call, and we have to go with the call.”

“When you’re watching, you can nitpick anything. And obviously, they felt that she did a dolphin kick and the calling was made.”

Weyant had told Nesty that she felt that her prelims swim was her best prelims performance ever. She had gone a time of 4:38.08, which would have qualified her for the ‘A’ final as the second seed. Nesty said that Weyant would have been capable of going around the 4:34-4:36 range in finals (for context, Katie Grimes went 4:33.80 to win, while Alex Walsh clocked a 4:35.46 to finish second).

On Ledecky

Florida’s best performing swimmer at Nationals was Katie Ledecky, who won the 400 and 800 free, placed second in the 200 free, and is a heavy favorite to win the 1500 free on Saturday night. In his interview, Nesty spoke about Ledecky’s impact on Florida’s program since arriving in fall 2021, as well as her training.

“She leads by example,” Nesty said of Ledecky. “She doesn’t say a lot of things, but when she’s on deck, everyone pays attention. She’s done wonders for our program and USA swimming in general.”

“[Ledecky] coming to Florida was awesome for me because I’ve never dealt with an athlete that polished before with such a long history. She’s helped me as a coach, and she’s helped the other staff. When the [Florida] men and women see exceptional athletes like her every day, they think that they can do what they do as well.”

Ledecky has stated in previous post-race interviews that she was doing more yardage than ever in her career. Nesty said that she primarily trains distance with male swimmers like Bobby Finke and Kieran Smith, but sometimes she will be in the IM group. Every few weeks, Nesty will have to give her a few days off because she gets tired.

Nesty said that the intensity of training with male swimmers that were faster than Ledecky was the biggest thing she had to adjust to coming to Florida, as at Stanford she trained with women that were significantly slower than her.

“Before she came to our program, she was only racing the clock. But after her first week [at Florida], she realized that people were in her face on a day-to-day basis,” Nesty said. “The intensity and the yardage was probably the hardest thing for her to get used to and she’s getting used to that.”

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Mike
10 months ago

Anthony said “When you’re watching, you can nitpick anything. And obviously, they felt that she did a dolphin kick and the calling was made.”

I’m 100% certain that officials didn’t say “they felt”. Otherwise, benefit of the doubt always goes to swimmer.

Distance
10 months ago

Caeleb swam really well considering how long he was out of the pool. And good for him-he gets to choose the path that makes him happiest not the path that others expect out of him that made him miserable.

This Guy
10 months ago

I respect Dressel a lot but at this point he is putting a lot of undue pressure on his teammates and coaches to have to keep answering questions that he needs deal with. Setup an interview with someone he trusts and can shape the conversation the way it’s most comfortable. A written message or a few Instagram messages explaining where he is in his health and training would go a long way to not impact others

I’m not at all saying he is being selfish, he is doing what he needs but it is now effecting others and I would be frustrated if I had to keep answering questions when the answer is standing silent

Comet16
10 months ago

I don’t think it was a bad idea for Dressel to compete in this meet. It shows him exactly where he is at. His fly isn’t too bad and with the proper training he will be back in the low 50s in the 100 fly. The freestyle is another story. When he gets his explosive start back he will be a factor in the 50 free. look at some many “older” guys like manadou, mcevoy and Erwin doing so well in the 50. The 100 free might be the most difficult to be a contender again. If his training goes well in the next 9-10 months he could be on the Olympic team on the 50 free, 100 fly and… Read more »

Chris
10 months ago

I’ll always root for that guy. He’s just a likable guy.

Philip Johnson
10 months ago

All things considered, good meet for a guy that started training in late February.

Scott johnson
10 months ago

Mental health
Anthony Nesty has done nothing but mentally abuse swimmers for years

M L
10 months ago

Dressel is far behind where Phelps was in 2014. Yes, Phelps posted top times a year later at 2015 Nationals, but he still needed another year to prepare for adding semis and relays (and faster prelims), and in the end he didn’t quite get back to those 2015 times under the heavier load (except in the 200IM, where he basically equaled 2015).

That said, it’s quite possible 50-point and 21.3 will win Paris gold in the 100 fly and 50 free. I would expect the 100 free to be faster though.

M L
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

I’m mainly bummed that it feels like we’ve seen Dressel’s peak. That he probably won’t ever hold the WR in the 50 or 100 free.

Mr Piano
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

He won’t get the 100 but he’s still more than young enough for the 50

Ob man
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

He’s only 26. Mcevoy recently went lifetime best at 29

M L
Reply to  Ob man
10 months ago

I’d love to see Dressel go a best time!

Mr Piano
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

Phelps had been training for a full year by 2014, from fall 2013. Dressel only started in February…

Caleb
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

I don’t agree with him being behind Phelps at all. I mean, who knows if he will maintain focus and really go for it… but he was only out for seven months. Not enough time to be competitive this summer, but plenty of time for Paris and beyond if he so chooses. Plus he’s swimming sprints, not 200s.

Rafael
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

I would be surprised if a 50 won Paris with milak liendo heilman etc
Same for the 21,3.

When will crooks drops his 50 lcm this year???

‘Murica
Reply to  M L
10 months ago

I would bet a lot of money Dressel easily breaks 50 next summer

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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