Dressel, Douglass Among Key Storylines To Watch At 2023 Atlanta Classic


There will be no shortage of intrigue surrounding the pool this weekend at the Atlanta Classic, as some of the sport’s biggest stars will converge at the McAuley Aquatic Center.

The two biggest superstars from the United States will be in action, University of Florida training mates Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky, as will arguably the best swimmer in the world, Canadian Summer McIntosh. This stacked lineup was only bolstered when Kate Douglass joined the entry list earlier this week.

Check out five key storylines to watch this weekend below:


The long-awaited return of Caeleb Dressel is the leading story this weekend, and for good reason.

After his abrupt departure from the 2022 World Championships midway through the competition last June, fans have been clamoring for any word on Dressel and his status. After we received several indicators that he was back in the pool earlier this year, we’ll now get to see him in a competitive setting for the first time in nearly 11 months.

While Dressel has put up some very fast in-season times at the Atlanta Classic in previous years, we shouldn’t expect anything too crazy in his racing return, especially with the U.S. National Championships still nearly seven weeks away.

However, the meet will still serve as a good measuring stick for Dressel to see where he’s at in his return.

At the 2021 Atlanta Classic—which was one month out of the U.S. Olympic Trials—Dressel recorded in-season times of 21.82 in the 50 free, 48.00 in the 100 free and 51.15 in the 100 fly.

In 2018, when the Atlanta Classic was more than two months prior to U.S. Nationals, he had vastly different results, including going 23.13 in the 50 free and 49.65 in the 100 free.

We should probably expect his results this weekend to be closer to 2018 than 2021, but more than anything, it will just be good to see him back in the pool.

In addition to the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly, where he’ll go head-to-head with reigning 100 free NCAA champion and Canadian star Josh Liendo, Dressel is also entered in the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM, though many expect he’ll scratch those races.


Kate Douglass made history in more ways than one during her incredibly successful four-year career at the University of Virginia, and she’s now shifting her focus to long course after accomplishing everything she could in the SCY pool.

This will be Douglass’ first competition since her record-breaking NCAA Championship performance in March (though she did post a 2:25.0 200 breast in a post-practice time trial last month), beginning what will be an intriguing run up to the 2023 World Championships and ultimately the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Douglass has entered all three of the events in which she is the reigning NCAA champion: 200 breast, 100 fly and 200 IM. She’ll certainly be the favorite in each of those, though Summer McIntosh could potentially pose a challenge in the 100 fly.

Douglass will also race the 100 free, an event she’ll more than likely key in on this summer with hopes of earning a spot on the U.S. 400 free relay, along with the 100 breast, a race which wasn’t able to pursue much in the NCAA due to her crowded event schedule.

Last year, the now 21-year-old opted to race the 50 free over the 200 IM at the U.S. World Trials, veering away from the event in which she won an Olympic bronze medal just nine months prior.

Given her entries in Atlanta, along with her mind-boggling performance in the event at NCAAs, Douglass is seemingly all-in on the 200 IM moving forward, which is an exciting prospect this summer.


The full University of Florida training squad appears to be attending the meet, from top pros to collegiate stars.

Besides Dressel, the group is highlighted by the most dominant female freestyler of all-time, Katie Ledecky, who isn’t messing around with her entries, taking on the women’s 200, 400 and 800 freestyle.

Ledecky has shown strong form so far this year, and currently ranks first in the world this season in the 800 free (8:13.90) and second in both the 200 free (1:54.96) and 400 free (3:59.71).

Summer McIntosh, who is ranked first in the 200 and 400 free, has opted not to enter any of those events, so Ledecky figures to dominate the field.

Like the rest of the Americans, the competition will simply serve as a stepping stone for Ledecky in the lead-up to Nationals (Worlds qualifier) in late June, but we can still expect the 26-year-old to deliver some quick performances.

Other female swimmers training in Florida to keep an eye on include sprinting veteran Natalie Hinds, former Cal star Izzy Ivey, and Olympic bronze medalist Emma Weyant.

On the men’s side, other key names in attendance from UF include fellow pros Bobby Finke and Kieran Smith, who both wrapped up their NCAA careers with the Gators last year.

Finke and Smith will collide in the 400 free and 400 IM, while Finke will also race the 800 and 1500 free, the two events in which he’s the reigning Olympic champion (and defending world champion in the 800).

Smith’s primary events come in the 200 and 400 free, having made the World Championship final in both races last summer.

We could potentially see an exciting clash in the 400 free with Finke, Smith and their Florida training mates Jake MitchellAlfonso Mestre and Gio Linscheer.

Smith will also feature in the 100 free, where he’ll go up against the likes of Dressel, Liendo and two more current Gators, Adam Chaney and Macguire McDuff.

Liendo will be another key name to watch for from the Florida training squad, as he’s coming off an impressive performance at the Canadian World Trials just over a month ago. Liendo leads the world rankings in the 100 fly (50.36), sits second in the 50 free (21.80), and is seventh in the 100 free (47.86), making him a formidable challenger to Dressel this weekend regardless of where he’s at in training.


Summer McIntosh will take on what can be described as an ‘off’ event schedule this weekend, as the 16-year-old Canadian has entered six races she’s never contested on the major international stage.

McIntosh has entered the 50 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 breast, and 100 fly, and despite the events being far from her specialty, she could very well walk away with a few victories.

McIntosh is the top seed in the 100 back, 200 back and 100 fly, and it will be intriguing to see what she can produce in these races given that she’s coming off of breaking the world record in the 400 IM on April 1.

The 200 back in particular is an event that’s been on everyone’s radar for McIntosh over the last few months after she put up a time of 2:07.15 at the U.S. Open this past December. That ranks her sixth in the world this season and fourth all-time among Canadians.

The possibility of McIntosh continuing to progress in her ‘off’ events will surely be something to watch, with her potentially taking a stab at the 1:00 barrier in the 100 back and going head-to-head with Douglass in the 100 fly in addition to the 200 back.


Matt Fallon will be back in action in Atlanta after he was absent from the 2023 Men’s NCAA Championships, reportedly due to an undisclosed injury.

Fallon, who placed third in the 200 breaststroke at the 2022 NCAAs as a freshman, was also missing from the U.S. International Team Trials last year due to a scheduling conflict with his final exams, meaning he did not vie for a spot on the World Championship team.

He then proceeded to drop a time of 2:07.91 in the 200 breast at U.S. Nationals in July, which ranked him third in the world for the year in 2022.

Given that swim last summer, many have penciled the 19-year-old in as the main U.S. medal hopeful in the 200 breast this summer, especially as Nic Fink continues to gear his focus towards the 50 and 100-meter events.

This weekend will mark the start of Fallon’s run-up to Nationals and if he qualifies, the World Championships, and it will be interesting to see his form in what will be his first competition since the Ivy League Championships in February.

Fallon, who is also entered in the 200 IM, 400 IM and 400 free, will go head-to-head with rising Florida sophomore and Lithuanian native Aleksas Savickas in the breast events in Atlanta.

Savickas had a standout NCAA campaign that included winning the SEC title in the 200 breast, and he also swam a best time of 2:09.68 in the LCM event at the U.S. Open in December.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
23 days ago


I hope for:

50 free – 21″9
100 free – 48″
100 fly – 51″5

We’ll see…
C’mon Remel! You’re the only one!

23 days ago

In other news, McEvoy just went 21.85 in the 50 Free heats in Sydney. His fastest time since 2017 and the fastest time by an Aussie since 2017. Still not internationally relevant but good to see him make some progress!

If McEvoy could regain his 2016/17 form then the Aus 100 free relay could be looking dangerous.

23 days ago

How is Katie Douglas the favorite in the 200IM?

Reply to  carlo
23 days ago

SM is not swimming the 200IM in this meet. She is only racing so called “off” events.

23 days ago

Fatt Mallon is back


24 days ago

Unrelated but it seems based on a couple of Peter Andrew’s Instagram clips that Michael Andrew has gone for a technique changed in the 50 Free, a more straight arm stroke on both arms, signalling an even further move away from the 200IM. I think it looks even uglier than his previous stroke if that’s possible so time will tell if it works

The alpha dog
Reply to  DK99
24 days ago

His arms look so short in the videos lmao

Sun Yangs Hammer
Reply to  The alpha dog
23 days ago


Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
23 days ago

His spirit animal is T-rex or Alligator

Reply to  Taa
23 days ago

Try a beached tortoise instead.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  DK99
23 days ago

I don’t think his 50 free technique was what needed tweaking, lmao.

I mean it might still help and every little bit counts yadda yadda, but still.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
23 days ago

I don’t see how that will assist in the 100 BR, 100 FL, 100 FR.

Reply to  DK99
23 days ago

200 IM? 150 IM is more accurate.

Reply to  DK99
23 days ago

Casas >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Andrew

Any questions?

24 days ago

For Dressel, predicting –
50 free – 22.49
100 free – 49.75
100 fly – 52.25

Nothing spectacular, but none of that matters…just him being back, hopefully in the right headspace, is all that matters.

Reply to  jim
24 days ago

Anything like or faster than 49.xx 52.xx and 22.xx, would be spectacular rn all things considered

Reply to  jim
23 days ago


He has been back training a pretty long time at this point. So I think he does avg Dressel things for this point in the season

Lap Counter
24 days ago

Speaking of Fink and Fallon, why isn’t Fink entered? Weird considering he trains at GT.

Reply to  swoomer
23 days ago

TYR athletes have to go to a certain number of TYR events. Might have wanted to take a trip to Mission Viejo regardless, but that could play in.

Lap Counter
Reply to  swoomer
23 days ago

I saw that after I posted above. How about Jake Magahey? UGA is entered in Atlanta and Jake isn’t in either Atlanta or MVN Pro Series?

24 days ago

I think Dressel will put together some solid swims.

50 free: 22.0
100 free: 48.7
100 fly: 51.4

Reply to  TINY HANDS
24 days ago

If he’s going 22 flat in the 50 he’s not going 48.7 in the 100

Reply to  DK99
23 days ago

You think faster ?

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »