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 month ago

Swim of the night for me at least because of how much emotion that went into this race.

Lex Soft
Reply to  PFA
1 month ago

It’s swim of the morning

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Lex Soft
1 month ago

comment image

1 month ago

So crazy that Cielo’s record still lives. That time has been on life support since 2017. Congrats to Dressel, 2 more to go. 🙂

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
1 month ago

Cielo’s other record though…

NOT the frontman of Metallica
Reply to  PFA
1 month ago

You mean the one for shortest doping ban?

Mr Piano
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
1 month ago

Honestly more like 2012, when, the missle went 47.10

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
1 month ago

His turn was really long. That’s what cost him

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
1 month ago

Getting sick of seeing his suited, doped/”heart medication” records. Hoping that neither one lasts much longer.

Philip Johnson
1 month ago

I love the Dressel and Chalmers rivalry, you can’t say enough about the two. Both are Olympic champions and great friends. Dressel and his start though is so much to overcome.

1 month ago

Two thoughts:

1. When I watched the race, it looked like CD put his head down 2 stroke cycles early and straight armed it. Perhaps more realistically, 1 stroke cycle. I’d love to see an analysis. Dressel is the only one in the final who left 100% in the pool, and that’s not an insult to the others–I don’t think the man had another meter in him.

2. Who the hell wins Olympic gold and then comes back FIVE years later (post surgery) and drops .50 in a 100 free?? And how likely is it that that performance doesn’t result in gold. Respect to King Kyle

Reply to  Penguin
1 month ago

Didn’t Chalmers have TWO invasive surgeries since 2016? There was the one that kept him out of 2017 and then I think he had another one in 2020?

Reply to  HJones
1 month ago

Shoulder surgeries and heart surgeries too . Two each I think

Definitely Not Sun Yang
1 month ago

Bro I remember when he won the gold in 2017. It was one of the days when the comment section had 1000 comments which was so rare back then I think they even wrote an article to acknowledge it. I remember they used the word perennial somewhere in that article to describe nathan adrian and i had to look up what it meant lmao. Crazy, crazy how much time has passed and how our community has developed and how he has improved. heck even I’ve learned some new words over these years that I think could perfectly describe what he’s become: indefatigable, stalwart, stolid… and he has bloomed into something of a perennial himself 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Definitely Not Sun Yang
Scotty P
1 month ago

I literally choked on my pizza rolls I talked about in previous comments.

Great race.

Also teared up a bit when he did his post race interview.

No it did not get into the pizza rolls.

No ragrets.

Last edited 1 month ago by Scotty P
Sam B
1 month ago

he is superhuman. We need to study him, before the Chinese steal him for cloning

1 month ago

Not only is he incredibly fast but he’s such a good racer well deserved!!

Wanna Sprite?
Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

His mental game and race prep is insane