Blueseventy Swim of the Week: That 1:38 IM Everyone Is Talking About


Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Last Thursday, Caeleb Dressel went 1:38.13 in the 200 IM.

You can go ahead and read that sentence again.

In a career of absurd times, that’s maybe the most absurd. Prior to 2015, no swimmer had ever broken 1:40 in the 200 IM. Now, just under three years later, Dressel has very nearly broken 1:38.

A look at the all-time top 10 performers and performances in that event is an illuminating reminder of how incredible Dressel’s performance is:

Top 10 Performers All-Time, Men’s 200y IM

  1. Caeleb Dressel, 1:38.13
  2. David Nolan, 1:39.38
  3. Will Licon, 1:40.04
  4. Ryan Lochte, 1:40.08
  5. Josh Prenot, 1:40.14
  6. Ryan Murphy, 1:40.27
  7. Bradley Ally, 1:40.49
  8. Michael Phelps / Marcin Cieslak, 1:40.48
  9. Mark Szaranek / Hugo Gonzalez, 1:40.67

Top 10 Performances All-Time, Men’s 200y IM

  1. Caeleb Dressel, 1:38.13
  2. David Nolan, 1:39.38
  3. Will Licon, 1:40.04
  4. David Nolan, 1:40.07
  5. Ryan Lochte, 1:40.08
  6. Will Licon, 1:40.09
  7. Josh Prenot, 1:40.14
  8. Ryan Murphy, 1:40.27
  9. Bradley Ally, 1:40.49
  10. Will Licon, 1:40.50

We haven’t even yet mentioned the fact that the 200 IM is probably Dressel’s fourth-best event at best. He’s already the American record-holder in the 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly and 100 breast in short course yards, and on the cusp of historic barriers (17.9, 39.9, 42.9 and 49.9) in all four.

Dressel’s dominance in the NCAA is a showcase of his versatility – far from just a sprinter, Dressel is proving himself a swimmer, and one who can seemingly break barriers in any event on any given day.


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2 years ago

I think there is a case to be made that this is now his 3rd best SCY event, not 4th or 5th, though that could change in March. It’s hard to rank greatness among times that stand so far ahead of all other performances, but I would rank: 100 free (40.00), 50 free (18.20) , 200IM (1:38.13), 100 fly (43.58), 100BR (50.03). And honestly maybe the 100BR is more impressive than fly. I’d give it a tie for 4th among those two.

Reply to  THEO
2 years ago

I’d also clarify that my rankings above relate to those specific times, not ranking Dressel’s abilities in events. If it really is true that he wasn’t fully prepped for SECs (which I assume is the case), then the 50.03 and 1:38.13 become even more impressive relative to the other three times, and therefore might move up the list.

Reply to  THEO
2 years ago

Like Phelps (who never really swam tapered yards when at his peak), Dressel is so good in so many events, that we may never know what he could do in some if he were fully tapered/shaved/suited. He probably has a very fast 200 free, 200 fly and 200 breast in him, perhaps even record breaking. It’s a shame that there isn’t a US Winter nationals the week after NCAA’s like there used to be.

Reply to  THEO
2 years ago

Ranking his events I would go..
1. 100 free (40.00)
2. 200 IM (1.38.1)
3. 50 free (18.2)
4. 100 fly (43.5. If he goes sub 43, this jumps to 2)
5. 200 free (???)
6. 100 breast (50.03)

Tea rex
2 years ago

So hot right now.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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