Swimmers of all ages and skill levels can learn a lot from superstar sprinter Caeleb Dressel. He has the perfect mix of speed, power and grace, crushing the competition and breaking world records in freestyle, individual medley and butterfly events.
From his streamline to his pull pattern and everything in between, we could spend hours analyzing every aspect of Caeleb’s technique in all 4 strokes…so let’s get started! Check out our analysis of Caeleb Dressel’s freestyle.
No swimmer is truly perfect — Caeleb included! His hand entry is a bit narrow, with his fingers entering the water closer to the midline of his body rather than in line with his shoulder. If Caeleb adjusted his hand entry slightly, he could improve his distance per stroke and efficiency.
Keeping your hands aligned with your shoulders is the most efficient way to initiate your catch. Think about it — if you start your catch when your arms are angled more toward your midline, you won’t pull much water. Instead, you’ll waste valuable time and energy sweeping your hands out to the proper position.
If you watch race footage, you’ll likely see that Caeleb lifts his head slightly when he breathes. This may cause his hips to drop, bringing him out of proper body position. For a pro like him, the change in body position will be very slight, but it still makes a difference!
He does a great job of looking to the side rather than forward during each breath, but his head is still pretty high, which places increased resistance on his body as he moves through the water. If he were to lower his head just 30 degrees, he’d likely see a big difference!
Ideally, you want to keep one eye in the water as you take a breath. Between breaths, focus on looking straight down to keep your hips up!
Underwater Dolphin Kick
Caeleb’s underwaters are insane! They are a huge contributor to his success in the sport. If we take a look at his walls, it’s clear that he uses his whole body in his kick. The kick begins at his hands, and he uses his chest, hips and legs to achieve maximum power.
He kicks in both directions, too. It’s common for swimmers to neglect the “up” portion of the dolphin kick, and they’re missing out on extra propulsion and power!
If you compare Caeleb’s underwater dolphin kick to other swimmers, like Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström, you’ll find that they look pretty different. Caeleb moves through the water with a large undulation, while Sarah’s kick is a lot smaller. And while it’s true that a larger kick will displace more water than a small one, there’s no right or wrong answer to a fast dolphin kick. Just make sure you’re in a tight streamline and kick both up and down!
In terms of catch and pull, Caeleb is killing it! He stretches his fingers forward before bending at the elbow to initiate an early vertical forearm (EVF) catch.
In sprint races, you won’t see as dramatic of an EVF as you would in a longer race, but the mechanics are still there. Caeleb manages to bend his elbow to maximize his pull while maintaining the fast turnover he needs to break all those world records!
Similarly, many sprinters, Caeleb included, have a straight-arm recovery above the water. They don’t place too much importance on bending at the elbow and keeping the hand closer to the body.
The streamline is the fundamental body position of swimming, and Caeleb is a pro! He keeps his arms squeezed tight to his head, hands stacked on top of each other. He looks straight down and keeps his core and legs engaged to maintain proper body positioning.
Related: 5 Most Common Freestyle Mistakes
Caeleb showed off his insane streamline skills in a video on his Instagram, diving off the blocks and holding streamline to see how far he could float. He went an impressive 20 meters!
Caeleb perfected his streamline with hours of practice. Remember: every turn is an opportunity to improve your streamline!
Caeleb hits the gym a few times a week to work on full body strength, core stability and power. He incorporates bodyweight exercises and Olympic lifts into his routine, and it definitely pays off in the pool! Caeleb shared his training schedule with us in a recent interview. Check it out here! >