Caeleb Dressel Fastest 200 IM Yards Race Analysis

Caeleb Dressel Fastest 200 IM Yards Race Analysis

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This past weekend was the start to the college swimming conference championships. As yards swimming continues to progress, we are fortunate to frequently see the best yards swims of all-time. This weekend started with a boom as Caeleb Dressel went the fastest 200 IM yards race in history. If you missed the 100 fastest 100 yard breast in history, check this analysis out.

For those who haven't followed one of our analyses, these analyses are for fun and to spark debate. There are some inherent flaws in this race analysis:

  • Videos are taken from YouTube videos (often with subpar angles)
  • There are analysed with Kinovea

Lets breakdown the fastest 200 IM  in yards history and compare it to some of the long course World Records and top swims. 

For context, here is the former fastest 100 yard breast video:

Fastest 200 IM Long Course Meters - 1:54.00 Ryan Lochte

200 IM Rio Olympics - 1:54.66 Michael Phelps

Fastest 200 IM Yards - 1:38.13 Caeleb Dressel

Fasted 200 IM Yards Comparison

Fly SplitBack SplitBreast SplitFree SplitTotal Time
Nolan ’15 NCAA’s21.6724.3229.2124.181:39.38
Nolan ’15 Pac 12’s21.9624.9529.0524.111:40.07
Lochte ’0722.0024.2429.2824.561:40.08
Licon ’15 NCAA21.6725.428.7524.271:40.09
Ally ’0921.4624.4229.8624.751:40.49
Dressel '18 SEC21.0325.0128.3723.721:38.13

Fasted 200 IM Yards Analysis

First 25 Yards

The Start and First 15-m (0-16.4 yards)

Like always, Caeleb has a great start, hitting the 15-m mark at 5.0 seconds (faster than his 100 breast 0-15-m, as expected). He takes roughly 1 stroke to the 15-m mark. This puts his velocity at ~3 m/s.

First 25 Finish (16.4 - 25 yards)

Dressel took 3 strokes into the wall, totaling 4 strokes for the first 25. He hits the wall in ~9.2 seconds.

Second 25 Yards

Second 15-m (25 -41.4 yards)

Utilizing his amazing underwater dolphin kicks, Dressel breaks out just before the 15-m mark at 6.33 seconds. 

His time to 15-m is 7.53 seconds and he takes 1 stroke again over this distance.

Second 25 Finish (41.4 - 50 yards)

Very well paced, Dressel closes the 2nd 25 of fly in ~4.1 seconds, which is nearly identical to his first lap. He took 4 strokes over this distance. 

First 50 Yards

The first 50 yards Dressel went 21.03 seconds on his way to the fastest 200 IM (in yards). 

He took a total of 9 strokes. 

Third 25 Yards

Third 15-m (50 - 64.4 yards)

On his weakest stroke, Dressel began his backstroke with a long bout of underwater dolphin kicking, breaking out at 6.66 seconds. He took took strokes before hitting the 15-m mark at 7.76 seconds.

Third 25 Finish (64.4 - 75 yards)

Into the wall, he finished in 5.36 seconds, a velocity of 1.6 m/s. 

He took a total of 6 strokes and had a distance per stroke of 1.43 meters/stroke.

Fourth 25 Yards

Fourth 15-m (75 - 91.4 yards)

On the fourth 25, Caeleb broke the surface in 5.6 seconds and hit the 15-m mark at 7.15 seconds. His velocity was 1.57 m/s (compared to 2.07 m/s on his 2nd 25 butterfly leg). 

He took 2 strokes over this distance. 

Fourth 25 Finish (91.4 - 100 yards)

Finishing the 2nd 50 yards, he closed in ~5.4 seconds. 

He took 7 strokes over this distance. 

Second 50 Yards

With backstroke being his weakest stroke, he still split 25.01 seconds. Although this was 0.7 seconds slower than David Nolan's previous record, it was still quick considering it is his worst stroke. 

Fifth 25 Yards

Fifth 15-m (100-116.4 yards)

Breaking the surface in 6.34 seconds, Dressel took only 1 stroke to hit the 15-m mark at ~8.0 seconds

Fifth 25 Finish (116.4 - 125 yards)

Dressel took 4 strokes over this distance, swimming it in 5.53 seconds. 

Sixth 25 Yards

Sixth 15-m (125 -141.4 yards)

Continuing his consistency on breast, Dressel breaks the surface at ~7.0 seconds and takes one stroke to ~8.4 seconds at 15-m mark. 

Sixth 25 Finish (41.4 - 50 yards)

He closes in ~8.4 seconds, maintaining his 4 strokes into the wall.

Third 50 Yards

Nearly outsplitting Nolan's race by 1 second, Mr. Dressel swims a blistering 28.37 seconds on his breaststroke leg. He took 10 total strokes [similar to his 100 breast stroke count]. 

Seventh 25 Yards

Seventh 15-m (150 - 164.4 yards)

On the freestyle leg, Dressel reduces his time underwater and only spends ~4.2 seconds to break the surface. He swam 6 strokes to the 15-m mark in ~7.7 seconds. 

Seventh 25 Finish (64.4 - 75 yards)

He took another 6 strokes into the finish.

He swam approximately 12.5 seconds over this leg.

Eighth 25 Yards

Eighth 15-m (75 - 91.4 yards)

On the final lap, Dressel popped up even earlier (at 3.33 seconds) and took 6 strokes until the 15-m mark at ~7.4 seconds (hard to get this time, the camera angle was off). 

Eighth 25 Finish (91.4 - 100 yards)

He took 7 strokes into the wall finishing the lap at ~4.2 seconds and at 11.6 seconds for the 25.

Fourth 50 Yards

His freestyle leg was blistering, finishing in 23.72 seconds, much faster than Nolan's previous record (24.18).

Fastest 200 IM Yards Analysis

An amazing swim once again by Mr. Dressel. This time puts him over a second again for the next fastest time! 

Most of this is attributed to Caeleb's:

  1. Amazing start. He was able to get off to a blistering speed and split 21.03 on his fly leg, much faster than any other swimmer. 
  2. Low stroke count. He was able to keep his stroke count down and reduce the amount of overall stress by focusing on his underwaters and turns (as he often does, just using the legs will create less metabolic waste than whole body swimming).
  3. Consistency between all the strokes. Although his backstroke leg was his weakest, it wasn't too far off Nolan's split or other great backstroke swimmers who did 200 IM.
  4. Ability to finish. Like always, he finishes his race exceptionally well. Closing in 23.72 second is far ahead of the rest of the field, pretty impressive for just a sprinter 🙂

Theoretical Improvements for Dressel

Time for some fun, how can Dressel improve the fastest 200 IM yards of all-time? 

  1. Improve backstroke dolphin kicks. If he could improve his backstroke dolphin kick speed and spend a tad more time underwater, he may be able to split ~24.75 seconds without expending too much more energy. 

That's about all I can suggest at this time. 

How else do you think he could improve his fastest 200 IM swim? 

  • Longer underwaters of free?
  • No breath on the last 25 of the free leg?

Let us know what you think!

Written by:

Dr. John Mullen


Dr. John Mullen, DPT, CSCS is a World renowned expert and speaker in sports training and rehabilitation. He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at USC, as well as the Josette Antonelli Division Service Scholarship, Order of the Golden Cane, and the Order of Areté. At USC, he also performed research on strength training and rehabilitation. Dr. John has worked with multiple professional and Olympic athletes, helping them earn Olympic medals.

His dedication to research and individualization spurred him to open COR in 2011. Since 2011, Dr. John has been featured in Gizmodo, Motherboard, Stack Magazine, and much more.

He has worked with the numerous colleges and teams regarding rehab and performance. Before his Doctoral program, Dr. John swam on an athletic scholarship at Purdue University.

At Purdue, Dr. John was an Academic Honorable Mention All-American and was awarded the Red Mackey Award and R. O. Papenguh Award. He also won the Purdue Undergraduate business plan and elevator pitch competition, as well as 1st prize with the Indiana Soy Bean Alliance.

Dr. John was born in Centerville, Ohio and was a 24-time high school All-American Swimmer. Dr. John is still a swimmer and holds a Masters Swimming World and Pacific Swimming Record.

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