SwimSwam Pulse: 76% Say Dressel is Best Yards Swimmer Ever

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers whether Caeleb Dressel is the greatest yards swimmer in history:


Question: Is Caeleb Dressel the greatest yards swimmer ever?

  • Yes – 76.3%
  • No – 23.7%

More than three-quarters of SwimSwam voters crowned Florida’s Caeleb Dressel the greatest swimmer in the history of the short course yards format.

That comes after Dressel exploded for three NCAA titles as a junior, breaking two American and NCAA records and putting up the fastest 50 free split in history. Dressel was the standout of the men’s NCAA Championships, becoming the only man to win three titles outright and the first to do so since Ryan Lochte in the mid-2000s.

Dressel swam the maximum 14 total swims at men’s NCAAs, carrying a heavy load for Florida. He had a hand in 178 of Florida’s 294.5 total points. And it’s not just this year’s results that earned Dressel this fan-voted title. Historically, he dominates the 50 yard freestyle in an unprecedented way.

Dressel now owns the entire top 10 swims in history in the 50 yard free:

Top 10 Performances In History – Men’s 50y Freestyle

Place Swimmer Time Meet Event
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

In the 100 yard free, Dressel holds the 3 fastest swims of all-time (40.00, 40.46, 40.48) along with 6 of the top 10. And after this year’s NCAA meet, he holds the fastest 100 yard fly swim of all-time along with 3 of the top 10 swims in history.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters which major international meet of the past week was most exciting:

Which National Championship or International Meet Was Most Exciting?

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I really hope Dressel wins 100 free in Budapest. Sorry for Aussies.

Tony Stark

I think Dressel will win 50 free.
Less likely to win 100.


Although I can see Dressel with a great medal chance, we have to put the things in perspective.Dressel dropped 0.46 in his 100 yard time in a year.Will not be ‘that easy’ to do the same drop in a 100free LCM.And Chalmers is two years younger…


rio was Dressels first ever international long course meet. I think we will see a bigger drop this year than most expect. He’s figuring out how to swim long course. If you watched NCAAs this year, he has worked on his stroke. Much more efficient. Last year when he went 40.46, I think he took 15 strokes on the last 25. This year he took 13. I think he is a gold medal contender this year in the 100, and the 50. However, qualifying for the 50 is difficult with Ervin/Adrian

Tony Stark

Not true at all.
Dressel swam in 2013 Junior world championship.

If the Olympics is your standard of first international long course meet, then both the 100 free male and one of the female champions also had their first international long course meet experience.


Adrian got it


Everybody is focused on the young Chalmers and Dressel, but what about Adrian and Mcevoy


People think just cause Cam chocked at the olympics he hasn’t ever gone a 47.05


Natalie Couglhin ?

tea rex

2002 NCAAs: This kind of dominance would be like Ryan Murphy swimming 42.5 and 1:33 in the backstroke — while crushing the freestyle and butterfly events. Fastest 4×50 MR splits: 1) COUGHLIN, NATALIE SO CALIFORNIA 23.41 2) BOTSFORD, BETH JR ARIZONA 25.19 3) WAGNER, AMY FR STANFORD 25.25 100 Back: 1) COUGHLIN, NATALIE SO CALIFORNIA :52.44 :49.97** :24.33 :25.64 2) WOESSNER, SUSAN SR INDIANA :54.02 :53.23 3) BOTSFORD, BETH JR ARIZONA :53.74 :53.45 4) Coventry, Kirsty FR AUBURN :54.12 :53.67 200 Back: 1) COUGHLIN, NATALIE SO CALIFORNIA 1:53.83 1:49.52** :25.28 :27.67 :28.05 :28.52 2) KEJZAR, ALENKA SO SOUTHERN METHOD. 1:55.09 1:54.18 3) Coventry, Kirsty FR AUBURN 1:56.90 1:54.37 4) Hoelzer, Margaret FR AUBURN 1:55.07 1:54.54 5) BOTSFORD, BETH JR ARIZONA… Read more »


I was thinking too much about the best MALE yards swimmer when I said Lochte was the best yards swimmer ever. Natalie is by and far the best ever yards swimmer. Records in 100 back. 100 fly, 100 free, 200 free,200 IM, and 200 back, and she had a really good 50 free to boot. Could you imagine if you could swim any number of events at NCAA’s? Ridiculously good possible no one could surpass her. Blows my mind Caeleb got 76%


4:37 isn’t a terrible 500, either!


Her best is a 4:45 but that was when she was 15! She also has a 9 minute 800 and 16:24.32 at 15 that would have put her 9th among 15-16 year olds. Arguably the greatest female swimmer of all time


She swam a 4:37 at Cal that still ranks as #7 on their top 10.


Believe it or not she held the 200 fly record for 6+ years too!


Gotta disagree and say Lochte is the best ever at the time he also had 3 records. Also had a stellar 200 fly at least for the time, incredible 400 IM, 41 second 100 19.22 50, solid 500 at the time, 200 free really good too. 53.27 100 breast also.
Honorable mention would be Grevers 18 second free 41.35 100 free 44 back and fly at age of 28, also 1:41 IM and 1:33.44 200 free plus a 1:38 200 back ain’t bad


Dressel is great, but agree that I don’t know if he is the greatest (yet?).
Would say he needs to continue to dominate and improve in a few more events.
Be hard to compete with Coughlin, dominated 4 out of 5 strokes (she was still pretty good in breaststroke)


1:00.2 at the Georgia Invite in 2011 isn’t too shabby.


Especially at 29. Bet she could have gone faster in her prime her 200 pr is 2:14.43 from when she was 16 in 1998


50 free:18.20
100 free: 40.00
200 free: 1:34.2
100 fly: 43.58
100 breast: 51.88
200 IM: 1:42.7

definitely some of the best yards time I’ve seen if you ask me. not many people can have such an amazing breaststroke and be the greatest sprinter and 100 flyer of all time for yards


Vlad Morozov was 52.0 breast so you can be fast at breast and although he didn’t swim 100 fly, pretty confident he could go 44


dressel is just in his own realm. he also did go the 51.88 at a dual meet


The Ohio State invite was a dual meet?


Brad Tandy was also 52 second breastroker, as was Chadwick. Sprinters totally cant breastroke

tommy boy

but what do their fly an IM look like tho


Chadwick got a 1:43.01 IM, Vlad was a 47 flyer in highschool so hes probably 45 at least, he also is the world record holder in the 100 IM


How is Chadwick in this conversation?


Cause some Caeleb fanboys don’t think people can swim a fast free and IM


not just fast free…..ridiculously fast free


40.95 100 is slow? 40.76 is slow?


Lochte is a case where, as great as he was in LCM, he would probably have been even better in SCY had he focused on that post-grad. Lochte didn’t peak until a while after he left Florida (about 4-5 years after depending on where you define his “peak”, but I’d say in 2011 Shanghai). We never saw what he was really capable of in SCY. I think Lochte probably could have been the SCY GOAT (probably 1:38 2IM, 1:35 2back, 3:32 4IM, 1:30 2free, etc), but opted to focus on LCM instead. A very similar sentence could probably also be applied to Phelps, but Lochte has an especially underwater-driven stroke, particularly in freestyle. I see your point that, in spite… Read more »


Lochte won 7 or 8 medals in Dubai 2010 SC worlds + 2 World records . Pretty darn Impressive . Here is the 200IM world record race . That was Lochte in SC at his very best :

Tea rex

Lochte was also sub-15:00 in the mile as a freshman

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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