Caeleb Dressel eyes 20-second barrier in controversial swimsuit

Caeleb Dressel
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Caeleb Dressel could become the first swimmer to break 20 seconds in the 50m freestyle (short course) in a special event next week, wearing a now-banned high-tech swimsuit.

Dressel will wear Speedo’s LZR Racer full-body suit, which Michael Phelps and other swimmers donned en route to world records more than a decade ago, namely at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The polyurethane suit — and others like it — were banned from Jan. 1, 2010, with men now limited to waist-to-knee “jammer” suits.

Olympic pools are 50 meters long. Dressel’s bid will come in a short-course, 25-meter pool. It will take place on Wednesday in a solo race. Video will be shared by Speedo on Thursday.

Last month, Dressel lowered his short-course 50m free world record to 20.16 seconds at the International Swimming League (ISL) in Budapest. The 50m free world record in an Olympic-size pool is 20.91 seconds, set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in 2009, wearing one of those now-banned, full-body suits.

“I’m not sure what to expect time-wise, but I am confident I can put together a well-executed race, and we’ll see what happens,” the 24-year-old Dressel said in a press release. “I was too young to experience the hype of the LZR Racer, but I feel I am part of it now.”

Speedo came up with the idea to “find out how fast a man can go in water without any restrictions” and to mark 20 years of the company’s Fastskin suit series, a spokesperson said.

“I’m honored that they picked me for this event,” said Dressel, who won 13 world titles between 2017 and 2019 and could make the U.S. Olympic team in up to seven events between individual races and relays. “It’s pretty cool taking a little piece of history regarding that Speedo LZR suit and how iconic it was and bringing it back to modern day.”

Dressel has never been timed in a full-body suit, but he’s the obvious candidate given his short-course world record and that he’s the reigning world champion in the 50m free in an Olympic-sized pool (in 21.04 seconds; the only two men who have gone faster did so in now-banned suits).

He did race butterfly in a full-body suit in practice earlier this year.

“It felt like a super suit,” Dressel said, noting it reminded him of watching all three Iron Man films while in ISL’s Budapest bubble last month. “Every time I put the suit on, it kind of [felt] like Iron Man putting his iron on.”

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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