Prior to his record-breaking performance at NCAAs in 2018, Caeleb Dressel showed up to the SEC championships ready to light-up some of his “off” events. After obliterating the American record in the 200 IM with a 1:38.13, everyone was anticipating what he could do in the 100 breaststroke. Coming out of prelims with a personal best of 51.07, Dressel crushed the final as he finished in 50.03, chopping .01 off of Kevin Cordes’ American record. Although Ian Finney broke Dressel’s mark a few weeks later at NCAAs, his swim, which brought him to a total of 5 American records, remains a testament to his overall versatility.
Previous Stroke Dissects:
- Stroke Dissect #1: Dressel’s thoughts on his 100m butterfly world record
- Stroke Dissect #2: Dressel’s 17.63 50 freestyle dissect is a coach’s dream
- “I know breaststroke technique, my biggest strength for breaststroke races is my pullouts and I know that so I take advantage of them.”
- “I think all strokes are interrelated that is why at a lot of my practices I try to at least once do at least one lap of the pool, take a stroke of each.”
- “Leading with your head in the stroke is the most important thing for breaststroke.”
- “Maintain the strengths, improve the weaknesses guys. I think that’s the biggest thing in swimming and you know sports in general and probably just life.”
- “Your turn wants to mimic a golf ball. You’ll be as tight as you can, keeping everything connected and getting your hands off that wall as quick as you can.”
- “it wasn’t a perfect swim, I think I hit my stroke counts very well, I hit my walls very well it’s a really fun swim.”
- “I wanted a mental challenge of something I was not comfortable doing, which is why I chose to do the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke at this meet and I thought I could do something really, really special. So, I could have fallen flat on my face and that’s totally fine, sometimes you are going to fall flat on your face in the sport of swimming and that’s fine, that’s totally fine. The only person you can blame at the end of the day is yourself guys, so bad race, good race it doesn’t matter, blame yourself and then get back on the water and look for ways to get better.”
At the start of the race, Dressel notes the fact that he does not stand when the officials ask the swimmers to do so, stating that it is a mistake and often officials will not start the race until all swimmers stand. He also says that staying down puts him in a poor position for his start, so it is best to stand up and readjust in that situation. Despite this, he says that his start was powerful and resulted in a good splash upon entry into the water.
At 6:54, Dressel notes how critical the one dolphin kick in the breaststroke pull-out is, while also addressing the use of illegal double kicks. “In breaststroke, you have to take advantage of the one kick that you get in the pull-out. Your boy’s not a cheater, I’ve never cheated in a race I’ve never done the double dolphin kick. Nobody cheat okay, I don’t care if you get caught or not don’t cheat don’t keep that on your conscience your boy only took one kick. He always only takes one kick but he takes advantage of that one kick, okay.”
At 7:34, Dressel speaks specifically to his dolphin kick, addressing the fact that the hips need to hinge properly in order to preserve momentum. “The hinge is gonna come right here okay you do not want to hinge at your lower back, all the power is going to be coming from within the hips. Specifically, you want to feel like the hinge is right there on your booty.”
A few seconds later, Dressel mentions how speed plays into his pull-outs, “boom so at no point if you feel like you’re slowing down on the pullout. At any point, you feel you’re slowing down the pullout, you’ve already lost your speed, your speed is already gone okay you’ve already missed your window when you should have been taking the kick or the throw down or the kick up and the breakout.”
At 9:09, Dressel negatively comments on his arm and elbow position during his first breakout, “bring them up over your body. Your hands should be pretty much touching your body the whole way up and then you’re gonna shoot okay. Look how wide my elbows are here, this is what you do not want to do.”
At 9:28, he looks at his first turn, saying that he was too open on it, leaving too much room between his head and his arm, comparing himself to a golf ball. “I need to be tighter okay and I’m referring to basically I’m flinging my head and then my arm’s still stuck on the wall. It needs to be like a tennis ball, no excuse me, it’d be like a golf ball.”
He further explains this analogy stating, “Okay, there are the stages you got freaking big physioball, and you got like a basketball, then you got a tennis ball, and you got a golf ball. Your turn wants to mimic a golf ball. You’ll be as tight as you can keeping everything connected and getting your hands off that wall as quick as you can.”
At 9:59, Dressel looks at his second breakout, referring back to his previous points about breakouts, stating that he slowed down due to the fact that he lost momentum going off the wall.
At 10:52, he goes into an in-depth analysis of the similarities between breaststroke and the other strokes, beginning with butterfly, “so the catch and breaststroke the front end the catch is very similar to butterfly. okay uh that initial grab on the outside, it’s gonna be the exact same. I have to figure out if it’s actually wider in breaststroke compared to butterfly I’m not sure yet so I don’t want to comment on something if I haven’t done my own personal research so no one can call me out, but the initial catch, they’re very similar between breaststroke and butterfly.”
He then goes further into this, comparing breaststroke’s hip position to backstroke, “so if you’re on your back you want to roll those hips forward like you’re trying to bring your hips to your belly button okay and if you put it in breaststroke this part right here is the same thing.”
“You want to engage from the hips to the belly button and kind of like rotate them forward. I think that gets a much better body position. I think breaststroke and backstroke mimic each other more specifically than the other strokes.”
Dressel then skips to the last lap of the race, beginning at 12:50, commenting on how his stroke is beginning to tighten up causing a pause during his stroke, “when my arms shoot forward my kick should be happening at the same time and it’s not, there’s a pause at the top of the stroke. See? See I’m shooting and then the kick comes in, see how late my kick’s coming in?”
At the end of the video, Dressel explains that he chose to do the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM at SECs in order to challenge himself into doing something out of his comfort zone. He then also explains his mentality going into the event, knowing that he was the only one who could control the result of it.
“I could do something really, really special. So, I could have fallen flat on my face and that’s totally fine. Sometimes you are going to fall flat on your face in the sport of swimming and that’s fine that’s totally fine. The only person you can blame at the end of the day is yourself guys. So, bad race, good race it doesn’t matter. blame yourself and then get back on the water and look for ways to get better ,that’s the only thing you can do. The only two things we can control in this world is our thoughts and our choices.”
“Okay so you have a bad swim, give it a pout for five minutes and then, next choice there’s your thought, and the next choice is to get up and do something about it. You know you can point the finger all you want, I’ve had tons of bad races, I’m never going to point the finger at somebody else. I don’t want to do that because the only person in control of me and my swimming is myself. So take ownership of your swims, good or bad guys, don’t be blaming your coach don’t, be blaming your teammates, you have control at the end of the day. That’s why we have lane lines, you get your own lane, you get your own block, you get your own touch pad. Okay, so take advantage of it.”