This past weekend at the 2016 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships in Missouri, Caeleb Dressel broke the American record in the 50 Freestyle (18.23), 100 Freestyle (41.07), and the SEC record in the 100 Butterfly (44.80). Oh, and he won all three events too. He was also on four winning relays.
Said differently, he went undefeated. He won every race the moment he dove off the blocks, and like many of the other greats he made it look easy.
Now the fact that he went undefeated and broke American Records as a Sophomore are extraordinary accomplishments regardless, but what really caught my eye was how dominating he was in his performances.
Appreciating that the definition of dominance is often vague in regards to athletics, for this case study I am using the definition of how much a winner won on a relative basis. Said differently, how far before the closest competitor did the winner finish.
Let's take a look at the first and second place finishes for each of the 12 individual men's events conducted at the 2016 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships, sorted in descending order of relative margin of victory (the bold events, which also happen to be the top three, belong to Dressel):
- 50 Free: 18.23 (1st Place) / 19.17 (2nd Place) / Delta = 5.2%
- 100 Free: 41.07 (1st Place) / 41.96 (2nd Place) / Delta = 2.2%
- 100 Fly: 44.80 (1st Place) / 45.59 (2nd Place) / Delta = 1.8%
- 1650 Free: 14:35.49 (1st Place) / 14:49.22 (2nd Place) / Delta = 1.6%
- 100 Back: 45.25 (1st Place) / 45.58 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.7%
- 400 IM: 3:40.33 (1st Place) / 3:41.88 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.7%
- 100 Breast: 51.94 (1st Place) / 52.13 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.4%
- 200 Back: 1:40.14 (1st Place) / 1:40.42 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.3%
- 200 Breast: 1:53.50 (1st Place) / 1:53.87 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.3%
- 200 IM: 1:42.21 (1st Place) / 1:42.55 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.3%
- 200 Fly: 1:40.59 (1st Place) / 1:40.80 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.2%
- 200 Free: 1:33.43 (1st Place) / 1:33.65 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.2%
- 500 Free: 4:13.31 (1st Place) / 4:13.48 (2nd Place) / Delta = 0.1%
And remember, this is on a relative basis. On an absolute basis, Dressels margin of victory in the 50 Free (0.94 seconds) ranks third on the list, behind only the 1650 free and the 400 IM!
In conclusion, to have the single largest margin of victory is impressive. To have it in three events is outstanding. But to do it in a sprint trio as a teenager in college is, quite frankly, dominating.
Posted By: Elliot Meena
Published: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016