Caeleb Dressel’s exploration of his breaststroking and IM skills has come to an end, at least for his collegiate career. The 2018 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship pre-selection psych sheets were released on Tuesday morning, and with it came the revelation that Dressel would return to his more traditional schedule of 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free on days 2, 3, and 4 of the 2018 NCAA Championships. That’s the same event that he’s raced in each of his 4 seasons of collegiate swimming.
That means that Dressel won’t swim the 200 IM or the 100 breaststroke – two races where he raced to the fastest times in history at the SEC Championships. He said after the 200 IM that he had to talk his coach Gregg Troy into letting him swim it; while he would be a prohibitive favorite to win the event again at NCAAs, his switch to the 50 free on the meet’s 2nd day makes far more sense from a team perspective. Florida won’t have another entrant in the 50 free at the meet, while they could have 2 other A-Finalists in the 200 IM – 2nd-seeded Mark Szaranek (1:41.00) and 5th-seeded Jan Switkowski (1:41.83). At SECs, where the team battle was a runaway, that was less of a concern.
Dressel is the fastest swimmer ever in the 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, and 100 breaststrokes in yards.
While he won’t swim that 200 IM or 100 breaststroke, that doesn’t mean that the swims won’t have an impact on his NCAA Championship meet events. Thanks to his all-time breaststroke, the Gators now have a viable medley that uses him on the breaststroke, Switkowski on fly, and Mark Szaranek or Maxime Rooney on the freestyle anchor. Last year, Dressel swam fly and Switkowski free, but with a 2.8-second gap between Dressel and the team’s next-best breaststroke; a second-and-a-half gap from Dressel to Switkowski on fly; and a less-than-a-second gap between Switkowski’s 100 free and that of some of his Gator teammates, a marginal gain on the medley could be made that way over last year’s medley.
While Dressel is swimming his usual events, there will still be something unusual about his individual lineup. He’s only the 78th-ranked swimmer nationally in the 100 fly this season. Some of the swimmers ahead of him won’t earn invites to the meet, but that still leaves Dressel with a very-early-heat draw at the NCAA Championships.