“It’s Just Fun to be Back”: Caeleb Dressel Wins His First Race Since Launching Comeback


There were three championship records broken and one tied during an action-packed third night of finals at the 2023 U.S Open Championship. But it was Caeleb Dressel who got the loudest cheer of the night as he flew home to earn his first win at a meet since returning to swimming this spring. His last win was the 50 butterfly at 2022 Worlds.

“It’s just fun to be back,” he said smiling in his post-race interview after expressing how well his training has been going and how much he enjoys the training group in Gainesville. Speaking of the group, one of the first people to congratulate him on the win was his training parter Josh Liendo, who placed 3rd.

The seven-time Olympic gold medalist came into the 100-meter butterfly final with two solid swims under his belt. He broke 22 seconds in the 50 freestyle for the first time since April 2022. And, in prelims of the 100 fly he had the fastest back half of anyone in the 66 swimmer field (26.86) which hinted at bigger things to come in the championship final.

Dressel’s always been known for his start. For his speed the first 15 meters of a race. He did have the fastest reaction time in the final but like his prelims swim, it was his back half that was the difference maker. After getting off the blocks first, Dressel turned at the halfway point in 6th place (24.42), .39 seconds behind the leading Santo Condorelli.

He dug in on the remaining 50 meters and once again turned in a field-best second 50. He split 26.89 on the way home, the only one in the field sub-27 seconds, flying through the field and getting his hands on the wall for the win just a hundredth ahead of ASU’s freshman phenom Ilya Kharun: 51.31 to 51.32.

Dressel’s 100 Fly Swims Since Comeback

  • 2023 Atlanta Classic (prelims) — 53.60
  • 2023 Atlanta Classic (finals) — 52.41
  • 2023 U.S. Nationals (prelims) — 51.95
  • 2023 U.S. Nationals (finals) — 51.66
  • 2023 U.S. Open (prelims) — 51.83
  • 2023 U.S. Open (finals) — 51.31

It’s Dressel’s fastest time since launching his comeback earlier this year, getting under the 51.66 he swam at 2023 U.S. Nationals back in June. But Dressel described the time as the “cherry on top,” in his post-race interview. He explained: “It’s always exciting to see fast times–it’s not something I need right now, training’s been going great.”

Dressel’s final race of the meet is the 100m freestyle. His fastest time since 2022 is a 49.42 but as he made clear tonight, a fast time will be a bonus as he continues his return to the sport.

Watch Dressel’s first win since 2022 below, courtesy of NBC Sports:


Top 8: 

  1. Caeleb Dressel (GSC) — 51.31
  2. Ilya Kharun (UN) — 51.32
  3. Josh Liendo (FLOR) — 51.42
  4. Hubert Kos (UN) — 51.59
  5. Santo Condorelli (UN) — 51.90
  6. Aiden Hayes (NCS) — 52.10
  7. Trenton Julian (MVN) — 52.12
  8. Zach Harting (CARD) — 52.18


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

Is he tapered or not?

VA Steve
2 months ago

What a great example he is. So emotionally intelligent. Only wish the best for him.

2 months ago

Such a great guy, so glad trusting the process is paying off

Summer Love
2 months ago

Glad he’s having fun swimming again.

Happy swimmer = fast swimmer

Last edited 2 months ago by Summer Love
2 months ago


2 months ago

Good on him, very pleased for him. Bigger and better things to come also 🤞.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

Read More »