Caeleb Dressel eyes 20-second barrier in controversial swimsuit

Caeleb Dressel
Getty Images

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!