Hardcore Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer or water polo player who has proven themselves truly hardcore over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Hardcore Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishements slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
March has far too many great options for Swimmer of the Month. But’s right now, it’s impossible to go wrong with Caeleb Dressel.
What probably most sets Dressel apart from the class this month is a number swim. Some great swims gain just a hint more flash to them when they hit a memorable number: maybe it’s a barrier going down (like a 49-second female backstroker or male breaststroker) or a number we don’t see often (like a 17-second swim of any class). For Dressel, the number of the month was 40. Or more specifically, 40.00.
That’s Dressel’s new American record in the 100 freestyle, as set Saturday night at men’s NCAAs. But if that’s not enough, Dressel had a second “number”: 17. The sprinter went 17 no less than three times at NCAAs, anchoring Florida in some of the fastest splits in history. His 17.71 from 200 medley relay prelims stacks up as the fastest split in history. His 17.93 from that final is #4 all-time and his 17.99 from the 200 free relay prelim #5.
In addition, Dressel accomplished a Ledeckian feat individually in the 50 free, despite that race arguably being his most disappointing at NCAAs. Dressel went twin 18.23s in the same session Thursday night to lead off a runner-up 200 free relay and win an individual 50 free title, all while taking over the entire top 10 swims in history in the race. Here’s what the new Top 10 performances list looks like after last week:
Men’s 50 Yard Free – All-Time Top Performances
|1||Caeleb Dressel||18.20||2016 NCAAs||50 FR Finals|
|2||Caeleb Dressel||18.23||2017 NCAAs||50 FR Finals|
|3||Caeleb Dressel||18.23||2017 NCAAs||200 FR Relay Finals|
|4||Caeleb Dressel||18.23||2016 SECs||50 FR Finals|
|5||Caeleb Dressel||18.24||2016 NCAAs||200 FR Relay Finals|
|6||Caeleb Dressel||18.29||2016 NCAAs||50 FR Prelims|
|7||Caeleb Dressel||18.32||2016 NCAAs||200 FR Relay Prelims|
|8||Caeleb Dressel||18.38||2017 NCAAs||50 FR Prelims|
|9||Caeleb Dressel||18.39||2016 SECs||50 FR Prelims|
|10||Caeleb Dressel||18.46||2017 SECs||50 FR Finals|
And we haven’t even mentioned the 100 fly yet. That was the swim that clinched Swimmer of the Year honors for Dressel with a massive upset of Olympic champ Joseph Schooling. Dressel cut an entire seven tenths off his lifetime-best, surging back over the final 50 yards to win gold. Dressel – known as a sprinter, but regularly proving he’s much more than a drop-dead 50 guy – put up an amazing 22.88 split over the second 50 to come back on Schooling.
Known for always swimming hard, even in prelims when he’s all but guaranteed a spot in the final, Dressel had a full slate of 14 swims at men’s NCAAs, and it’s hard to classify even a single one of them as a bad swim. (His only two somewhat “off” swims were his legs of the 400 medley and 400 free relays, which came at the end of sessions. The medley relay was Dressel’s 6th swim of Thursday, and his 400 free relay leadoff his 4th swim of Saturday and his 14th over the past three days). Here’s a look at each of his swims in chronological order:
- 200 free relay prelims: 17.99 (relay start)
- 50 free prelims: 18.38
- 400 medley relay prelims: 40.56 (relay start – free)
- 200 free relay finals: 18.23 (leadoff)
- 50 free finals: 18.23
- 400 medley relay finals: 44.33 (relay start – fly)
- 100 fly prelims: 44.49
- 200 medley relay prelims: 17.71 (relay start – free)
- 100 fly finals: 43.58
- 200 medley relay finals: 17.93 (relay start – free)
- 100 free prelims: 41.00
- 400 free relay prelims: 40.67 (relay start)
- 100 free finals: 40.00
- 400 free relay finals: 40.48 (leadoff)
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