Home > NCAA Men's Day 2: Division 1 50 Free
Day 2 of the 2018 NCAA Swimming Championships was definitely one for the books. Florida’s Caeleb Dressel impressing with another history-making hat-trick to compliment his performance at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He began with a record-breaking 50 Freestyle performance in prelims, where he smashed his own NCAA, American, and US Open records. But he didn’t stop there, he went on to make history again, being the first to break the 18-second barrier in his lead-off leg of the 200 freestyle relay. Finally, less than an hour later, he dropped yet another personal best in the individual 50y free finals, to set the record at a blistering 17.63 s, a full second and body length ahead of the field!
The metrics that made history
Dressel has clearly mastered this event, based on his metrics. With the exception of his DPS on the second lap, all of his metrics were far above average compared to the rest of the field. On the first lap, he produced the highest DPS and stroke index, while simultaneously pulling the fastest stroke rate. This ensured no one could come close to his speed or split. And although he dropped his DPS on the second lap, he still maintained the fastest stroke rate and speed coming back. Overall combining stroke speed, length, and power, to deliver extremely efficient strokes at an exceptionally fast rate.
Another incredible aspect of Dressel’s performance was his control of his underwaters. His underwater time landed in the mid-range of the field, however his unparalleled speed underwater allowed him to break out farthest from the wall at both ends. This gave him a significant advantage, and lead, right from the initial breakout. In addition, and what is perhaps even more impressive, was the fact that he spent almost exactly the same amount of time underwater off both the dive and turn. Dressel’s time underwater changed by only 0.07s, where the average in the heat was a 0.43s change between the two laps, demonstrating a mastery of the skill like we’ve not seen before.
Opposite swims tie for 5th
Another interesting component of this race was the dichotomy in metrics between Auburn’s Zachary Apple and California’s Ryan Hoffer, who tied for 5th. Apple and Hoffer produced nearly the same speed in both laps, with Hoffer behind by 0.01 m/s. However Apple outperformed Hoffer in stroking metrics, with faster, stronger and more efficient strokes in both laps. With that said, it was Hoffer’s transitions that kept Apple from finishing ahead, as his turns were the quickest, and Apple’s the slowest, of the field. The slightest improvement in Apple’s turn could have given him the edge to out-touch Hoffer and break the tie. While at the same time, if Hoffer focuses on improving either his stroke rate or DPS (or both) without letting the other slip, he might have pulled ahead.
This short, but sweet event reaffirmed a couple lessons. First is the importance of maximizing each stroke. Though it is fairly uncommon to find an athlete with the power to produce the greatest distance in each stroke while also maintaining the fastest stroke rate, like Caeleb Dressel has, nailing these metrics leads to record breaking wins.
The second is the difference optimizing underwater strategy can make, especially if stroking ability is a little less developed. Incredible control and power like Dressel displayed on his time underwater provides the greatest advantage. Also getting into, and out of the walls early and fast like Hoffer did makes a huge difference in overcoming a lag in the stroking portion of a race. Coupling these together can make or break a finish, whether it’s out-touching an opponent, or breaking a record for the third time in a day.
To dive into the numbers of each athlete yourself, use the interactive race analysis below to see exactly how they performed across all metrics.
We’re at the halfway point of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Swimming Championships, and more exciting races are in store. Stay tuned for more race analysis!