Stroke Analysis: Caeleb Dressel 100 Free

by Michael Hamann 23

April 27th, 2022 National, News

2022 U.S. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TRIALS

Following yesterday’s prelim swim, many swim fans were taking notice of some technical changes by the world’s top sprinter, Caeleb Dressel. On last night’s telecast, commentator Rowdy Gaines confirmed as much, saying that Dressel has been “tinkering” with his stroke. 

Dressel’s longtime coach Gregg Troy retired from coaching following the Tokyo Games, meaning Dressel switched his primary coaches to Florida’s Steve Jungbluth and Anthony Nesty. So what exactly has the Olympic champ changed, and what impact is it having on his race? 

Tokyo 100 Free Final Video (August 2021)

US International Trials 100 Free Final Video (April 2022)

The most significant change comes in Dressel’s right arm, which is noticeably more vertical during the recovery than 9 months ago in Tokyo. His left arm is also slightly more vertical, though his Tokyo race displays a stroke with a fairly vertical left arm but a much more relaxed right arm. 

The main result is a slightly faster stroke rate, especially through the middle portion of the race. Take a look at Dressel’s stroke rate (taken over three cycles, then averaged) at various points of the race. 

25 Meter 40 Meter 65 Meter 80 Meter
2021 Tokyo 100 Final (47.02) 1.12/cycle 1.14/cycle 1.17/cycle 1.19/cycle
2022 US Trials 100 Final (47.79) 1.11/cycle 1.11/cycle 1.12/cycle 1.18/cycle

Known for his fantastic start and opening speed, both of Dressel’s first 25’s were fairly similar. The difference starts to come in as he gets deeper into the race, where his stroke rate begins to climb in Tokyo but maintains very consistent through the first 75 in Greensboro. Despite his closing tempo being similar, there was a much starker fall on the final third of the race, as opposed to a more gradual slowing of his tempo in Tokyo. 

The other major difference between his race last night and the Olympic final is where Dressel took his final breath. In the Olympic final, Dressel took his final 15 strokes without taking a breath, holding off Kyle Chalmers to take the gold. Last night, Dressel took his last breath just 8 strokes from the wall, a significant difference from Tokyo. 

One simple explanation for that difference is that he isn’t in peak form for the US Trials and will be able to close better in Budapest, or perhaps the adrenaline of an Olympic final propelled him to a near-superhuman finish. A slightly more nuanced thought is that sustaining a higher stroke throughout the race is more taxing, and may be a trade off for an unbelievable finish. 

To find out the final answer, we’ll have to wait until the men’s 100 final in Budapest two months from now.

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Coach T
9 months ago

It’d be cool to have stroke counts beside his tempos for both races, since here we only get about half the story. Looked to me like his turn hurt him more than anything. I think the power of the stroke overall looks better with the straight arm though the right hand entry looks like it’s having some negative effects. Good to have things you can clean up when you’re already going so fast.

Luigi
9 months ago

Technically, the best-looking Dressel to me was 2019’s Dressel. At least in freestyle.
The 2019 WC meet was to him what 2007 Melbourne was to Phelps. I often wonder, if Tokio had happened in 2020, what he’d have achieved. Now we’ll never know.

By the way I can’t recall a single time where tinkering with a stroke has brought real benefits to an already accomplished swimmer. Phelps, Lochte, Thorpe tried and it didn’t pan out. Maybe he will be the outlier.

Justhereforfun
9 months ago

I really wanna hear Dressel’s perspective on the change especially since he’s said in the past that a straight arm stroke isn’t for him

PFA
9 months ago

Brett hawke did a podcast yesterday talking about why his competitors should worry about Dressel and his stroke. For anyone interested in what I am talking about here is the link to his video.
https://youtu.be/AULoPaDEoRA

Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

100 free prediction Budapest:
1. Popovici
2. Hwang
3. Miressi
4. Grousset
5. Burras
6. Liendo
7. Dean/Whittle
8. Miroslaw

Dressel doesn’t make finals due to his new stroke. Does he know about Swimswam’s displeasure?

someone
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

popovicii first??? idk man hes like 17

Notanyswimmer
Reply to  someone
9 months ago

He’ll have the second fastest PB out of all those participating in the 100 free at Worlds (Chalmers not swimming, Kolesnikov banned), and he still has more time to drop as the youngest guy. If Dressel slips (that stroke is indeed ugly) then the race is all his.

Pvdh
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

Popovici goes nice times…when there’s not a massive wash around him.

Big Mac #1
9 months ago

What really matters is the change in his underwater portion of his stroke.

M L
Reply to  Big Mac #1
9 months ago

How has it changed? I haven’t seen underwater footage from this meet.

M L
Reply to  M L
9 months ago

His performance seems to vary somewhat with how much hand-pitching he does underwater. Sometimes it seems like he’s losing power with too much break at the wrist, in an effort to keep his palm facing backward.

Big Mac #1
Reply to  M L
9 months ago

Im saying that I don’t know if it has changed but that is the part that matters the most because that is the generator of forward movement.

RC17
9 months ago

Can someone ask him in an interview why he changed it up, what the benefits he and his coach think it will bring

Caeleb Remel Cultist
Reply to  RC17
9 months ago

It will enable him to break the rubberized record in the 50 free.

#Project20.7
comment image

Tony
Reply to  Caeleb Remel Cultist
9 months ago

Would love to see him kill off the ancient 50 and 100 LC free WRs.

Meow
9 months ago

Thanks for this! I was wondering about it when I watched yesterday and this comparison to Tokyo is excellent. Obviously my opinion here means nothing and he is clearly still getting results, but man do I think his new stroke is ugly.

Joel
Reply to  Meow
9 months ago

I haven’t been able to see a video yet of this new stroke (unavailable so far in Australia) but I thought it was ugly in Tokyo too. But it gets results.

Troyy
Reply to  Joel
9 months ago

Video from Pro Swim Series meet earlier in the season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx75Iz_apts

Luigi
Reply to  Joel
9 months ago

Look up Usa Swimming’s YouTube channel

someone
Reply to  Meow
9 months ago

very explosive new stroke, but i think it would suit the 50 more, maybe keep his old stroke for a 200 since its a bit better for rythmn

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  someone
9 months ago

what 200? He ducked out of it.

Comments are Closed
Reply to  Meow
9 months ago

Don’t you recognize Janet Evans’s freestyle biomechanics when you see it?

Last edited 9 months ago by Comments are Closed