(Caeleb Dressel at the sub 20 challenge. Credit: Mike Lewis)


The legendary 20-second barrier for a 50m short course swim remains standing after an exhibition event by Speedo explored whether it could be broken.

On Fastskin’s 20th birthday, Speedo gave the fastest man on the planet, Caeleb Dressel, the infamous Speedo Fastskin 2008 LZR Racer swimsuit, made famous at the Beijing Olympics before being banned.

Dressel remains the fastest swimmer in the world, setting a new world record time of 20.16 seconds last month at the International Swimming League in Budapest wearing Speedo’s latest suit technology.

Speaking after the event when asked how it was to race in the suit, Caeleb said:

 “I had to change a couple of things like my body position. It felt really, really good - but I’ll say this; nothing is guaranteed and the suit doesn’t make the swimmer, the swimmer makes the suit.

 “I got up and I raced tough, I wouldn’t change anything about it.” When asked if he’d take the challenge on again he replied;

 “Oh I would 100% do it again. It’s not about going as fast as you can all the time, it’s about learning from the sport and I think that’s the most important thing I can take away from today.”

 Speaking about the event, Rob Hicking, brand director at Speedo, said: “When we first came up with the idea for this challenge we knew it was going to be really difficult to beat 20 seconds as there’s a reason nobody has ever broken that barrier – but we wanted to see how fast humans could go in water if unrestricted. It’s in our brand DNA to take risks and see how far we can push the limits of the sport.

 “We had an amazing partner for the event in Caeleb – credit to him for putting himself out there, having some fun and exploring what was possible. Whilst the Sub 20 barrier remains, he is still the fastest man the world has ever seen and we can’t wait to see what Caeleb can achieve in 2021 and beyond.”

 Speedo has produced a short documentary around the Sub 20 event, which can be viewed or embedded from here: 


For Dressel and Speedo, attentions now focus to Tokyo for the delayed 2020 Olympic Games, where the Florida-born star will be aiming to further add to his legacy.

When he steps on the blocks that day, it will be in the latest FINA-approved Speedo Fastskin suit. Since the launch of their Pure Valor and Pure Intent suits in 2019, 65% of world records have been broken by athletes in the suits, including three individual records by Dressel at the recent ISL meeting.