Phelps: “Shocking” That Caeleb Dressel Left Off 4×200 Freestyle Relay

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

UPDATE: The United States men finished 4th in the 4×200 freestyle relay. Zach Apple had the slowest split of the American finals group, splitting 1:47.31, as the Americans missed the podium. That marked the first time at a non-boycotted Olympics where the American men missed a medal in a relay.

American Splits:

In a one-on-one sit-down on with NBC’s Mike Tirico between swimming events during tonight’s coverage, Michael Phelps expressed his surprise in the decision to not use Caeleb Dressel in the men’s 4×200 freestyle relay. Phelps, who has been active in Tokyo for NBC commentating races live and doing coverage away from the pool, left no doubts in how he felt Dressel could be advantageous for tonight’s 4×200 freestyle relay final.

The full quote from Phelps:

“It’s shocking. You know, in my opinion, he’s probably the best 200 freestyler in the world. He can probably put up one of the best times that we’ve seen. Leaving him off that relay, to me, I think makes it a lot harder to win the gold medal.”

Team USA opted for a lineup of Kieran SmithDrew KiblerZach Apple, and Townley Haas.

There was speculation that Dressel would end up on the final of 4×200 freestyle relay after he clocked a smooth 1:46.63 in the 200 freestyle preliminaries at U.S. Olympic Trials last month. While Dressel is obviously known more as a sprinter, he’s no stranger to longer races, most notably when he blasted the American, U.S. Open, and NCAA records in the 200 yard IM back in 2018. In addition, the coaching staff has already proven to go against the grain during the Tokyo Games, placing Simone Manuel on the final of the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay. However, Dressel does have a busy schedule ahead of him, including presumably 7 more individual swims and multiple relay swims this week.

Phelps himself has plenty of experience in participating on Olympic relays in which he did not “officially” qualify at U.S. Olympic Trials. During his final four Olympic Games, Phelps competed in the final of the 4×100 freestyle relay for Team USA, despite never competing in a semifinal or final at Trials.

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Notanyswimmer
1 month ago

Dressel’s 200 free is badly overrated.

Coach
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
1 month ago

Maybe Michael was right about Caeleb needing to be on the relay?

Last edited 1 month ago by Coach
Ratio
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Maybe we should listen to the guy that’s gone 1:42.0 in the 2 Free…

Eagleswim
Reply to  Ratio
1 month ago

Biederman?

WaterBear13
Reply to  Ratio
1 month ago

Biederman has an opinion? I didn’t know that he was an American swimming fan.

Ratio
Reply to  Ratio
1 month ago

Meant 1:43.0. I can’t type.

Anonymoose
Reply to  Ratio
1 month ago

but he went 1.42,9.
maybe you just cant think good yes?

MTK
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
1 month ago

I agree. I don’t think 1:46.6 is his true “best”, but Phelps seems to think he can go 1:43 or something, and and we’ve never seen anything to suggest that. I’d predict him at 1:45.5-1:45.9, which is near-elite (top 10-15 in the world), but not transcendent.

I respect Phelps a lot, but sometimes he seems to overstate things a bit too much. I even remember watching the Phelps 3-part doc that came out earlier this year and he was bragging pretty hard about the 2007 US 4×200 winning by “like 25meters” when it was clearly more like 10-12.

Last edited 1 month ago by MTK
FluidG
Reply to  MTK
1 month ago

I’m with Phelps. And there are strong indicators of Dressel’s 200 potential if you know what to look for. People pigeonhole him as a sprinter, but he has excellent speed endurance. Never underestimate Caeleb Dressel.

MTK
Reply to  FluidG
1 month ago

Being insanely good at 200yard events is a far cry from 200LCM. I said I think he’s currently a top 10-ish guy in the world in 200fr, and I do think he has the talent to move up into the top few places, but not while also being a world record contender in 50fr. 20.9 50fr and 1:43-1:44 200fr are not likely attainable at the same time.

Last edited 1 month ago by MTK
MTK
Reply to  MTK
1 month ago

*meant 2008, not 2007

FluidG
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
1 month ago

Quite the opposite. At 17 Worlds, he dominated the first and last 15 meters of the 100 free and fly. The guy who pulls away on the last 10 meters of the 100 is capable of a superior 200. And Dressel showed he is strong in the 200s all season. He could medal in the 200 free, fly or IM if he aimed for them.

Piotr
1 month ago

No disrespect, but … just no.

Michael Andrew Wilson
Reply to  Piotr
1 month ago

Was coming to make almost the exact same comment. 💯

sure
Reply to  Michael Andrew Wilson
1 month ago

This might be one of the worst comments of all time

Pawn
Reply to  Piotr
1 month ago

Pretty sure dressel coulda gone faster than 1:47 😬

JVW
Reply to  Pawn
1 month ago

Chalmers split a 1:45.3 for Australia in the final. I think Dressel could have equalled that.

Unknown Swammer
Reply to  Pawn
1 month ago

Pretty sure the US had plenty of options there that could’ve gone faster than 1:47…

Dressel will come 3rd in 100 free
1 month ago

Sorry but – how?!?! What is it with Americans and just suggesting American swimmers are the best before they have even done the work?

Dressel will come 3rd in 100 free

Perhaps that’s a tad harsh on the wider American community – but where does this entitlement come from? Best 200 freestyler in the world? I’m sorry but even though it’s Phelps that’s a stupid thing to say.

swimmer guy

what exactly r u getting at? do u not think dressel could swing(relay start) a few tenths faster then what he went at trials in a prelims chillin by himself? i get u don’t think he could go 1:43 but like bruh don’t say he couldn’t swing a 1:46.0.. or even andrew seliskar with a 1:46.1 in da prelims… these r options that woulda most likely resulted in a medal n u can’t deny that

sure
Reply to  swimmer guy
1 month ago

Are you seriously this dense? He’s talking specifically about how Phelps called Dressel the best 200 free swimmer in the world, which is just a blatant exaggeration

Last edited 1 month ago by sure
Tea rex

200 free is an event every all around good swimmer can do well. Caeleb is a very very good all around swimmer

He's right
1 month ago

He’s right

sure
Reply to  He's right
1 month ago

Lol he’s right that they should’ve put him on. He’s wrong to call him the best 200 freestyler in the world and it’s just disrespectful to say that tbh

Khachaturian
1 month ago

His hopes are too high

Khachaturian
Reply to  Khachaturian
1 month ago

ouch

Joe
1 month ago

I get it though. We’re basically saying we’re not going for the gold medal, and I’m not surprised that Phelps doesn’t like that.

PVSFree
Reply to  Joe
1 month ago

The US relay selections have been fairly conservative so far this meet, not sure how I really feel about that

mwswimfan
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

The Simone choice was hardly conservative even though Simone is Simone

Eagleswim
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

They put Simone in the final which was pretty bold, so I’m not really sure what you mean. Apple in the 4×2 was a bold move and we saw how that worked out. Mixed medley and regular medleys will be interesting to see what they do.

I don’t think many coaches on staff forget the decision to have lochte anchor the 4×1 in 2012 though, so if they’re more conservative than you like I suspect that may play into it

Expectations are Haunting
Reply to  Eagleswim
1 month ago

They expected her past performance to be her present result. They lucked out on the relay IMO, it wasn’t bold it was more or less a comfortable selection based on past performance. Throwing a rookie on the relay would have been bold.

sure
Reply to  Expectations are Haunting
1 month ago

Throwing a rookie on instead of simone would just be idiotic, not bold. What they did was definitely bold and not the typical decision.

tea rex
Reply to  Eagleswim
1 month ago

Apple WAS a qualifier for the 4×200 so not exactly bold. Just dumb. When it was his only event of the day at OT he was about as fast as Seli and Pieroni. Dude’s swimming like 6 x 100s this week, but technically he qualified in the 4×200 so let’s put him in there too… in the final… after another semifinal.

Safe would have been Seli.
Bold would have been Dressel.
Really bold would have been Litherland.

Relay Enthusiast
1 month ago

“He’s probably the best 200 freestyler in the world” errrr yeah no. He swam a 1:46.6 at US trials and he knew he wasn’t swimming semis and finals so he went all out in the heats. About 20 people in history have gone under 1:45. There is absolutely now way that he could go sub 1:45.

jvog88
Reply to  Relay Enthusiast
1 month ago

He was not going all out on the heats. If you were paying attention, you would notice him backing off at a couple points during the race and at the end.

sure
Reply to  jvog88
1 month ago

Sure. Still just stupid to call him the best in the world without proving it in any capacity… ever

tea rex
Reply to  sure
1 month ago

With the hedging (“in my opinion”, “he can probably”)… I think it’s clear Phelps was talking about potential, not proven, resutls.

FluidG
Reply to  Relay Enthusiast
1 month ago

Phelps is right. I’ve been saying the same thing since 2017 Worlds. It’s a mistake to judge his potential from an unrested prelims swim on the 1st day of a heavy schedule. He cruised that 1:46.

Dressel will come 3rd in 100 free
1 month ago

Now I know that SwimCritic is actually Michael Phelps posting from poolside

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