Dressel Breaks Olympic Record in 100 Free for 2nd Gold Medal in Tokyo


Just under ten years ago, The Swimmers Circle, the predecessor to SwimSwam, first wrote about Caeleb Dressel after he broke the 13-14 National Age Group record in the 50 free. Our editor Braden Keith wrote at that time..

Back to Dressel, he might be the answer to the “where are the young sprinters?” question that has been asked frequently in the past month about USA Swimming.

Dressel has already answered that question in spades in the years since then, but today, he put another notch in his belt, earning his first individual Olympic gold medal after getting his hand to the wall first in an exhilarating 100 free final.

While Dressel had won gold in this event at both the 2017 and 2019 Worlds, there was no guarantee of victory tonight, as the field included defending Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers, who nearly took down Dressel in 2019, and Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov, who scorched a 47.11 in semis.

As usual, Dressel got off to an incredibly fast start, building a notable lead on the field almost immediately off of the blocks. He flipped at 22.39, with Kolesnikov just behind him at 22.49. Chalmers, meanwhile, turned at 22.71, as the race shaped up similarly to other Dressel vs. Chalmers contests. Chalmers closed in 24.37, but Dressel’s 24.63 was enough to hold off the Australian, and Dressel won 47.02 to 47.08, with Kolesnikov finishing 3rd in 47.44.

Dressel’s time tonight ranks as the 4th-fastest performance of all-time, and Chalmers tied his own mark as the 7th-fastest swim ever.

Top 10 Performances All-Time

  1. Cesar Cielo (Brazil), 2009, 46.91
  2. Alain Bernard (France), 2009, 46.94
  3. Caeleb Dressel (United States), 2019, 46.96
  4. Caeleb Dressel (United States), 2021, 47.02
  5. Cameron McEvoy (Australia), 2016, 47.04
  6. Eamon Sullivan (Australia), 2008, 47.05
  7. Kyle Chalmers (Australia), 2019/2021, 47.08
  8. (tie)
  9. James Magnussen (Australia), 2012, 47.10
  10. Kliment Kolesnikov (Russia), 2021, 47.11

Top 10 Performers All-Time

  1. Cesar Cielo (Brazil), 2009, 46.91
  2. Alain Bernard (France), 2009, 46.94
  3. Caeleb Dressel (United States), 2019, 46.96
  4. Cameron McEvoy (Australia), 2016, 47.04
  5. Eamon Sullivan (Australia), 2008, 47.05
  6. Kyle Chalmers (Australia), 2019, 47.08
  7. James Magnussen (Australia), 2012, 47.10
  8. Kliment Kolesnikov (Russia), 2021, 47.11
  9. Fred Bousquet (France), 2009, 47.15
  10. Brent Hayden (Canada), 2009, 47.27

Dressel’s swim tonight also set a new Olympic Record in the event, breaking the mark of 47.05 that Australia’s Eamon Sullivan swam back in 2008.

That’s the second gold medal overall for Dressel this week, after he led off the USA’s 4×100 free relay en route to gold. On paper, Dressel has a chance of earning up to another four medals this week, as he’s a top contender in the 50 free and the 100 fly, and should make appearances on the mixed and men’s medley relays as well.

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1 year ago

This swim would be required viewing for any of my swimmers. The last 15M was simply Dressel refusing to lose…it’s obvious he was tightening up. That’s pure mental toughness.

Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Damn, all that monotonous Rowdy noise about RTs, and the difference between Dressel and Chalmers was EXACTLY the RT.

casual observer
1 year ago

I really hope Kyle does another Olympic cycle with hopefully an uninterrupted prep. The fact he was that close to Dressel so soon after shoulder surgery is pretty incredible. Worlds next year will be a great battle.

Big T
1 year ago

Great race, really think if Chalmers was in the lane next to Caeleb he would of won. Amazing that Chalmers is almost 2 years younger then Caeleb. My friends brother had the exact same surgery as what Kyle and he wasn’t himself physically for a while so kudos for Kyle. Swimming is in great hands with such a gracious athlete like Caeleb.

1 year ago

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Lex Soft
1 year ago

I noticed he always breathed to the left. It helped him to keep his eyes on Kolesnikov who was closing hard in the last 10m where he then increased his stroke rate.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Lex Soft
1 year ago

He always increases his stroke rate at the end because he’s no-breathing it from at least 15 meters out.

David s
1 year ago

I’m sad because I wanted Chalmers to win.
I’m happy because I wanted Dressel to win.
I’m just a mess

Reply to  David s
1 year ago

Beautiful human beings those two.

1 year ago

that post-race interview got me 🥺

Last edited 1 year ago by chinnychenchen

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