World Record holder Caeleb Dressel recently uploaded a detailed race analysis of his record-setting performance in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea to his YouTube channel.
The video, which is 17 minutes long, gives us the opportunity to hear Dressel’s thoughts on his performance in-depth. From the very beginning of the race, Dressel is critical of his actions and technique.
For all the hype around his start, Dressel states that he thinks he lifted his chin too much on his start in the 100 fly semifinal in Gwangju, causing his chest to drop slightly. He states that he enters the water “clean enough” though he thinks the swimmer in lane 7 did a better job entering the water as they had a smaller splash.
Speaking on his underwaters, Dressel notes that his entire body undulates as he dolphin kicks–a technique he shares with Ryan Lochte, whereas Michael Phelps kept his upper body still during his underwaters.
At 7:32, Dressel describes his stroke as looking “pausy” and “forced,” calling it “not a smooth stroke at all” over the course of his first 50, which he attributes to having too much of a pause between the first and second kick in his butterfly stroke cycle.
At 8:47, Dressel describes how he believes each stroke of butterfly should lead from into one another, a technique he describes as a “roll off.”
“Your shoulders are rolling off at the end of the stroke, back into the water. I hate to say down at any part of the stroke, so when I say rolling off your shoulder’s want to roll off, you want to feel that water roll off, as I say that way too many times, but it really is, and it’s not just I’m throwing my shoulders around, it’s the whole body working in unison to come to the end of the stroke. Have the shoulders roll off to just kind of lay down into that next part of the catch, and it almost looks like I’m just popping up and there’s not a clean transition between laying back down on top of that water, it seems like it’s a very up-and-down rigid forced stroke.”
Dressel states that he was probably a little too excited since he was chasing the World Record, which probably added to the bounciness of his stroke.
While most of us can only wish we could ricochet off the wall with the grace and power Dressel has, he describes his turn at 50 meters as “looking like a 9-year-old.” He notes that his timing into the wall was pretty good, but that his “arm could have hit the top of the stadium,” as he drops back into the turn.
Watching the second 50 of the race, Dressel remarks that his stroke looks better than it did going out, though he also recalls how badly this race hurt, giving us reassurance that he is mortal. At 11:20, Dressel states that he views his technique over the second 50 to have more of the “roll off” that he described a few minutes earlier.
Dressel notes that a race should hurt no matter what and that is something you should take pride in.
He wraps up by saying that he believes the kick and the legs are what drive the tempo of the stroke, but that the different regions of the body are not isolated and need to all work synergistically to achieve a balanced and efficient stroke, characterized by high hips and non-stop forward motion.