Coaches Corner: Dressel’s Developmental Training For Future Success

by SwimSwam Partner Content 32

January 24th, 2018 Training

Courtesy of RITTER Sports Performance, a SwimSwam partner

Caeleb Dressel is doing things that many fans of the sport find unbelievable. Whether it’s making an 18-second 50 look easy, or going 40.00 in the 100 Free, to not breathing on the last lap of fly, the list of his feats keeps growing.

It’s important not to lose the perspective that he’s actually been preparing to do many of these feats for most of his swimming career.

Jason Calanog, the assistant coach for Men’s Swimming at Texas A&M, was one of Caeleb’s developmental coaches at The Bolles School. While on the Coaches Corner Jason talked about the approach that went into Caeleb’s progression and what he still does with the “sprinters” he coaches.

“I don’t just do 2,000-3,000 yards with them. You know sometimes these sprinters are doing 5,000 or 6,000 yards a practice. It’s a little bit of a different approach in that I want them to become ‘swimmers.’

“My goal is for you to be a swimmer not just a ‘sprinter’ and when you’re 25 or 26, when you’re a man or a pro swimmer that’s a little bit different situation. But as a college person who’s 18 or 19, I want you to be called a ‘swimmer.’

“I think that’s what’s special and what’s impressive about what Caeleb’s doing right now. The world is seeing him do things that they never thought sprinters would do but he’s been training this way his entire life.

“When he was with me he was doing 20x400IMs and he was still going 18-seconds in the 50. It’s a matter of telling these guys that they’re swimmers.

“He always considered himself a swimmer. So I do the same thing with the sprinters here at Texas A&M.”

Caeleb’s success is proving out this approach more and more. But this isn’t really unique to Caeleb. Michael Phelps of course is THE example of diversifying in swim training and many others like Natalie Coughlin, Ryan Lochte, all the way back to Tracy Caulkins and Shane Gould have used the same formula.

So what’s the key that coaches should focus on if they’re wanting to set their swimmers up for future success?

Jason puts it to his swimmers like this: “You know we need you to be good at certain places. That’s where we need to be good. But also, be ready for anything.”

Jason Calanog was recently featured in the Coaches Corner on RITTER Sports Performance, where he explained, in-depth a four-week training stretch for the team. It even included all the workouts leading up to a historic dual meet performance against the Texas Longhorns in which Texas A&M won for the first time in 55 years!

What’s really unique about Jason’s coaching position at Texas A&M is that he and the Head Coach, Jay Holmes, rotate what groups they coach on a regular basis. So, in the Coaches Corner you’re able to see how Jason approaches the “sprinters” and the “distance” swimmers and sometimes how similar the workouts end up being.

Jason is also candid about what he’s even picking up from being around the women’s team and Head Coach Steve Bultman.

“I’m always learning and experimenting. I never wanted to always do the same thing. I want to test out what other coaches are doing and how to incorporate my style in my type of practices so I’m always learning. I think it’s important that I’m always challenging myself and trying to be two steps ahead of my swimmers.”

You can get full access to the training discussions with Jason and all the past featured coaches of the Coaches Corner, including: Dave Salo, Gregg Parini, Todd DeSorbo and many more.

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Please tell me the 20*400IM is a typo?


Nah. I remember him once saying on Twitter. He’s done 20x400s free too.


Everyone at Florida does the 20x400s once a year.


i thought he did those at Bolles?


20×400 IMs is a staple of any program Troy has touched. If we only had to do it once a year when I was at Bolles it was a pretty lucky year


Is it just swum to completion or no?


20×400 is so dumb! I can maybe see an open water swimmer doing this, but what sense does this make for everyone else whose longest race last 15 to 16 minute & most races last under 5????
Swimmer X is fast & swimmer X does this is training so hat means the training is awesome. Every coach out there knows swimmers that swim fast DESPITE the training they receive. These top colleges/clubs/coaches are not exempt from this phenomenon.


It’s more about mental and physical toughness than an actual aerobic or training benefit. When you make it through sets like that doing a 200 fly or 400IM in a meet seems easy and you aren’t scared to attack it from the beginning. Obviously some swimmers do it and others don’t and can be the same speed. It depends on the coaches and the program that they run for their athletes

Gramps 98

Yeah, but it worked


We did the same thing on our team but we’ve also did 20*500 free and 150*100 free no typo


Hey, Michael Andrew, you reading this?


I hope he does ……

SwimFan 192

After all – it’s the end of swimming as we know it if Michael has major success doing whatever he’s doing, Right? Can’t wait to see him fail so that the old methods continue to be supported…… or Michael, we would love you more if you were doing things our way….. don’t rock the boat!!


I can’t love this post enough. apparently Andrew’s 21.5 LCM 50 free (but only 340 something 400 yd IM) range is a “failure.”


Different training methods work for different people


Yes but this type of training has worked for many world-class swimmers, the three other athletes named in this article are two of the greatest all-around swimmers ever, and one of the best female sprinters/swimmers in history. Not arguing USRPT doesn’t work for MA, but it seems that it works for a much smaller number of world class swimmers.

Coach Mike 1952

What about Josh Davis’ rave reviews of USRPT?


I wonder if Josh believes he would have been faster in college training USRPT rather than what Texas did.


After he had retired and been swimming masters? I see the benefit for those types of swimmers because they are older and did their time with long hard sets whose main purpose is to be very hard and last a long time, they aren’t expecting to get back to their peak so training short and fast is more enjoyable and takes less time out of their day. But for the pros attempting to reach their peak still, those long hard sets are needed. Just because people like something new (or relatively new now) does not mean it will be good for most other people

Chris Ritter

So agree! That’s what I’m enjoying about hosting the Coaches Corner so much – there are so many DIFFERENT ways that coaches are getting swimmers faster. It depends on a variety of factors. Learn what you can from each coach and apply as needed in your situation!


The better question is can Peter Andrew read this?? Maybe stop trashing everybody else’s training regimens and insisting that your way is the only way.


What do you mean by, “can Peter Andrew read this?” Do you mean that maybe he doesn’t know how to read? That’s how it read to me, and I am sure others.

Caeleb Dressel Will Get 7 golds in Tokyo

Stop hating on MA. He’s one of the best swimmers in the country. He doesn’t need to be MP

Gary P

I believe that if MA firmly committed to USRPT training for the 400 free for one full year, he’d end up a helluva lot better 200 IM’er, 100 free’er, and might even find the missing closing speed in his 50’s that cost him two wins at Austin. My 100 and 200 free got faster when I added the 400/500 to my racing and USPRT training schedule, and the time saved all came on the back half.


Dressel pulled away from the field in the last 15m of both the 100 free and 100 fly at Worlds. Anyone who can finish a 100 fly like that can swim a fast 200. I think he’s fully capable of dominating the 200 fly, too. Maybe we’ll get to see it.

Coach Mike 1952

maybe, just maybe, we shall see!