Dressel Breaks Down 100 Free Gold and Race Plan From 2013 World JR Champs

In the most recent installment in his “Stroke Dissect” series on YouTube, Caeleb Dressel dives into his gold medal-winning 100 LCM freestyle from the 2013 World Junior Championships.

The swim came at Dressel’s first major international meet, part of a 6-medal performance. He is now the two-time defending World Champion in that same 100 free and is creeping very close to the World Record in the event.

The 2013 World Junior Championships was a turning point in Dressel’s swimming career. As he says at the end of the video, he had been “chasing 48” for a long time and finally achieved it in Dubai with a 48.97 and the gold medal.

Dressel’s other stroke dissect analyses:

Top Quotes

  • “I do log books and I journal and that’s really the main reason I see how to progress, but being able to watch video is very, very helpful.”
  • “The reason I did this video is my mom, my mom watches my YouTube videos, by the way, guys, which is hype, [and] she wanted me to do this one, so mom, of course, is going to get priority over any race that anybody recommends, so let’s see what we got.”
  • Do not resort to tempo in order to speed up your stroke, it’s typically either going to be a harder kick or it’s going to be a more, I don’t want to use aggressive, it’s going to be more rotation, more power through the rotation of your core and your hips to get more power within the stroke,”
  • “[S]tick with your race plan so that you have something to resort to when things really start hurting.”
  • “Guys, if you win a heat, celebrate, man. You own that heat, that’s your heat, you can do whatever you want, I mean, to an extent, you gotta tell your competition ‘good job,’ of course, be respectful… You win your heat, celebrate. That’s your moment, own it.”

Caeleb Dressel Stroke Dissect, 100 LCM Freestyle, 2013 World Junior Championships

Full Breakdown

As Dressel watches the race once through at full-speed he comments that even now seven years later he can still remember how badly he was hurting the final 25 meters of the race, saying that he doesn’t know how he got his hand on the wall first but also saying “really good race though.”

As he toggles back to the beginning of the race (2:21), Dressel reminds viewers that when he is hard on himself he is not trying to be funny by incorporating a bit of self-deprecating humor. Rather, he notices imperfections in his race videos that fall below the high standards he holds himself to and that if he were not able to look back on old races and identify those imperfections he would not be able to improve.

At 3:38 Dressel looks at his position on the blocks immediately before the start of the race, pointing out that his elbows are “fanned out” slightly, something that he tells viewers not to do. Dressel notices that his elbows “collapsed” at the beginning of the start, calling that “wasted movement” that he could have sent forward instead of backward.

Dressel tells us at 6:08 that his motivation for dissecting this particular race is because his mom watches his videos and she wanted him to analyze this swim: “The reason I did this video is my mom, my mom watches my YouTube videos, by the way, guys, which is hype, [and] she wanted me to do this one, so mom, of course, is going to get priority over any race that anybody recommends, so let’s see what we got.”

Though he though his entry into the water was okay owing to good hip positioning and a small enough splash, Dressel calls his breakout “super slow,” which he clarified by saying “And by slow I mean it seemed really late, that’s usually, if I say it’s a slow breakout that’s what I mean by that.” He goes on to say at 6:39 “See that pause, it’s just [that] I’m on the surface of the water and then I’m taking that arm stroke. You should technically be breaking out like maybe a foot or two under the surface.”

At 6:48 Dressel begins to analyze his stroke mechanics and race strategy, saying that “in high school, I was definitely known for going out super fast… I’m actually fine with that right arm, the left arm looks a little short but breathing looks good.” This is an interesting contrast from his analysis of his 100 LCM freestyle as the lead-off leg of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics where he cringed at the technique of his right arm and his overall body and head position.

At 6:58 Dressel delves further into his technique and stroke tempo and gives viewers some insight into his racing habits when he was in high school:

“It’s a little choppy, I’m not going to be too hard on myself at this point because basically what I relied on in high school was just tempo… a lot of tempo, that if you look at my 50, I’ll go over some of my 50s and you’ll see it’s just straight up tempo and that is not what’s supposed to drive the stroke, especially not long course, I think that’s why long course exposes a lot of people. Do not resort to tempo in order to speed up your stroke, it’s typically either going to be a harder kick or it’s going to be a more, I don’t want to use aggressive, it’s going to be more rotation, more power through the rotation of your core and your hips to get more power within the stroke rather than just speeding up the tempo because you are going to die, as you’re about to see at the end of this race with what’s about to happen to me.”

Though Dressel says he was “a little long into the turn” he also says it was “fine” and that his breakout on the second 50 was “much better.”

At 8:09 Dressel says his stroke is about to get a little short and that he is breathing to his “bad side.” This is because he wanted to be able to see his toughest competitor, Australian Luke Percy, however, Dressel mistakenly believed Percy would be racing in lane 5 instead of lane 3, but because he had woken up that morning planning on breathing towards lane 5 he stuck with that strategy.

“I am very fluid, if you notice, I don’t have a super set routine, I do have a set routine behind the blocks but it’s very fluid. If something goes wrong, my goggles break, whatever, whatever… you can’t be so set on one routine that if you don’t get that thing in you’re just going to be freaking out, so I had to improvise, even though I didn’t change my race plan. So stick with your race plan so that you have something to resort to when things really start hurting.”

At 9:30 Dressel tells viewers “this is where I’m hurting, look at this, I’m flinging my arms right here, absolutely flinging, but I held on well, to be honest.”

At 9:59 Dressel points out how he took his last breath at the flags, whereas now he puts his head down with 15 meters left to go.

Dressel concludes by saying that his biggest complaint with the race was the tempo of his arms.

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tea rex
2 months ago

I don’t understand his “tempo doesn’t make you go faster” bit.
Speed = distance per stroke (dps) * strokes per second (tempo). I guess Caeleb’s trying to say that when HE tries to increase his tempo, he has trouble keeping his hip rotation up with his arm speed and so loses more dps than he gains in tempo? But strictly speaking, if you can keep the same number of strokes/lap and do each stroke faster, you WILL go faster

DMacNCheez
Reply to  tea rex
2 months ago

I think he’s forgetting we can’t all just go the gym and becoming walking tanks like him

PVSFree
Reply to  tea rex
2 months ago

I think what he’s trying to say is that for most people, the increase in tempo will come at the expense of DPS. So if you increase your tempo by 5%, but see a 10% decrease in DPS, you’re going slower. He’s trying to argue that you need to focus on DPS/efficiency before you focus on your tempo (if you actually watch his races over the years, you can see he made that shift himself – in high school/freshman year he was just spinning but slowed down the stroke over time)

Gesundheit
Reply to  tea rex
2 months ago

I think he wants people to focus more on dps. A lot of swimmers that watch his dissects are age groupers, and so at that age, dps is much much more important than tempo (ex: the whole “Swim smarter not harder” mantra). When you start doing weights, then tempo comes into play.

Swimgeek
2 months ago

Man, I love this stuff. Such a fascinating look inside the head of the fastest swimmer in the world! He’s got amazing talent, obviously, but he’s also a real student of the sport.

Joel
2 months ago

I’ve always wondered what happened to Luke Percy .

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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