The world’s fastest swimmer, Caeleb Dressel, chatted with Markos Papadatos about being an ambassador for the International Swimming League (ISL), competing for the Cali Condors and preparing for Tokyo 2020.
On serving as an ambassador for the ISL, Dressel said, “I am definitely excited. We will see how this year goes. I am really excited to see everyone on the team. I only get to see them once a year on the national team, and plus, I have two teammates from Florida that are on it, so I get to see them a few more times a year.”
Dressel had nothing but the greatest remarks about General Manager (GM) Jason Lezak of the Cali Condors. “That is pretty cool. For me, growing up, watching Jason swim was awesome, especially on the 2008 Olympic relay final that he won for Team USA. It is crazy that he is the GM for a team that I am on now. Everything comes full circle and it is kind of funny how it is working out like that,” he said.
He won a record-breaking eight medals at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, six of which were gold and the other two were silver.
Dressel also broke several world records in Gwangju, including the men’s 100 meter butterfly with 49.50 seconds in the semi-final (breaking Michael Phelps’ 10-year-record) and the 4×100 meter mixed freestyle relay with a time of 3:19.40. “That was nice. It was a fun meet. I am focusing on next year already. I took what I could from that meet and took what I could learn from it and moved on. Hopefully, next year, I will be even better,” he said.
Each day, Dressel is motivated by his “desire to get better.” “That’s what drives me, and that’s what always has, both in and out of the water. I want to be a better person. We can always be better than we were yesterday,” he explained.
For young and aspiring swimmers, Dressel encouraged them to “enjoy it.” “At the end of the day, you need to be enjoying it and enjoying the challenge. Also, don’t get too caught up in just being a swimmer,” he said.
He spoke highly of the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation, which deals with saving lives and building champions. “I think the USA Swimming Foundation is great. Water should be available to everyone at any time to enjoy it. It’s unfair that some people can’t enjoy the water just like the people on the national team can. Water is something that people should not be afraid of. It is awesome that they are promoting water safety for kids because it is something that every kid should be able to enjoy,” he said.
“I grew up in Florida, I have been surrounded by water my whole life. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like if I never learned how to swim or didn’t feel safe around the water,” he said. “Swimming is a life skill and it might be the only sport that can save your life.”
On the impact of technology on the sport of swimming, he said, “It is kind of weird how we took a step back in a way, with the tech suits almost, so that aspect of it kind of disappeared, which is interesting. For me, for the most part, it’s all about getting in the water and swimming. Technology is a part of the sport these days, and it is crazy how fast it has been progressing.”
While he does have a NormaTec, for recovery he uses massage and ice baths. “Those are my two go-to’s and I get the most out of them,” he said.
Throughout his career, Dressel shared that he has had many moments that helped define him as an athlete and as a person. “I’ve had a lot of races, good and bad, ever since I was a young 12-year-old, all the way to when I was a 16-year-old, all the way up to racing in the World Championships. You can always find ways to continue learning and it is just constant,” he said.
“There is something to learn in practice and each and every race where you can keep learning. That’s why I love this sport so much and that’s why I am still in it,” he explained.
He noted that he had the privileged opportunity to do one Breakout Swim Clinic with three-time Olympic gold medalist Josh Davis. “I do like working with him. Josh is pretty fun,” he said.
Dressel acknowledged that the current chapter of his life deals with preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. “Right now, I am in a good spot mentally with swimming,” he said.
In his spare time, he enjoys training his black labrador, Jane, playing the drums. “I take Jane out usually once or twice a day,” he said.
For his fans and supporters, Dressel remarked, “Thank you. It is nice since not too long ago I was in the same boat as my fans. I was a fan myself of the sport. I’m trying to get better and the other swimmers are trying to get better too.”
Dressel defined success as follows: “Finding your purpose on earth, and my goal is to inspire just one person. It’s not about trying to inspire the world since I am a strong believer that everything comes full circle at a certain point. I hope with my swimming, or outside my swimming, I can give people some hope or some happiness. I want people to know that I believe in them.”
“Greatness is within all of us. I truly believe that. We all have different skills and talents. It may be a little intimidating seeing all of these professional athletes on a big level, but we are all on an even playing field. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether you are a doctor, a receptionist, a truck driver, a professional basketball player or a swimmer. Greatness is within us and maximizing our skill sets. We all have different skills and talents,” he elaborated.
The 23-year-old swimmer expressed his love for Blink-182 and their music, and he recently did a drum cover of “What’s My Age Again?” which may be seen on his Instagram page. “My older brother, Tyler, got me into Blink-182,” he said. “I grew up listening to whatever he listened to, and he happened to love punk-pop music. I’ve stuck with Blink-182 to this day. I went to one of their concerts in Orlando and it completely changed my life. It was amazing.”
Speaking of “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182, one of the lines in the classic song states: “nobody likes you when you’re 23.” Ironically enough, Dressel just turned 23 years old last month on August 16, and it is safe to say that the whole sports world loves him at that age. His life story, perseverance, hard work ethic, and indomitable spirit are an inspiration to us all.