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Caeleb Dressel joins select swimmers club with five gold medals at an Olympic Games

2021-08-01T20:05:18.606Z

Five golds in a single Olympiad - a feat only four other Americans had accomplished. "It has not been an easy year: it has been very difficult. Seeing the results makes me happy," said the swimmer, who describes the consequences left by the stress of living up to everything that was expected of him.



By Paul Newberry - AP

There was no joy in the process for Caeleb Dressel.

Sleepless nights.

Almost no appetite.

A cocoon at an Olympics, isolated from his wife, family and friends in Florida.

But in the end, it was all worth it.

Arriving in Tokyo as one of the Games' most hyped athletes, Dressel met the moment with brilliant performances, one after another.

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When he finished his participation this Sunday, the 24-year-old had accumulated five gold medals,

one for each race in which he had the opportunity to compete

, to claim his place in the Mount Rushmore of swimming.

Only four other Americans had captured five golds in a single Olympiad (three in swimming and one in skating): Michael Phelps (who did it three times: 2004, 2008 and 2016), Matt Biondi (1988), Eric Heiden (1980) and Mark Spitz (1972). 

Now there are five.

Dressel capped their Games with a dominating victory in the 50 meter freestyle and dazzling butterfly stage with the US team, which broke a 12-year world record and allowed them to take gold in the 4x100 medley relay.

Dressel reveled in the triumph, but it also revealed the terrible price he had to pay.

"I am very happy to have finished," he

said.

“It is not an easy week or year at all.

I guess some parts were extremely enjoyable.

I'd say most were not. "

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Dressel gave a small hint of the anguish backstage.

When it comes time to compete, his gaze is always one of iron determination, a cold-blooded desire to be the first to hit the wall, no matter how much it hurts.

Caeleb Reel Dressel is 24 years old.

He was born in Green Cove Springs, Florida and is one of only five swimmers to have won five gold medals in a single Olympiad.Carl Recine / Reuters

He no doubt scares off some of his opponents before diving into the pool, an imposing figure with a huge tattoo that starts at the top of his left shoulder and extends to his wrist, basically wrapping his entire arm.

The tattoo has images of an American flag, orange blossoms, magnolias, a bald eagle, a bear, an alligator;

essentially an ink tribute to his home state.

["We are human": Simone Biles highlights the importance of mental health after withdrawing from another Olympic final]

"I'm very good at hiding my emotions," Dressel said.

"I can put on a really good show before every race, but once I turn it off, it just goes away."

In fact, there is a sensitive side that few see.

Dressel spent what little free time she had writing a journal about her experiences in Tokyo.

Tears flowed freely when no one was looking.

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The monotonous work involved in swimming six events in just over a week, not to mention the stress of living up to all that was expected of him, pushed Dressel to the limit.

"You can't sleep well, you can't nap, you're shaking all the time, you don't eat," he

said.

"I've probably lost 10 pounds."

Nobody could imagine what Dressel was going through when they saw the way he dominated in the pool.

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His brilliant technique beyond the dive, a butterfly-like movement that was only visible to cameras below the surface

, ensured that he had the upper hand as soon as his head emerged from the water.

The only individual race that was in doubt was the 100 freestyle, which Dressel led to the finish.

But he had to work hard to hold off Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers by six hundredths of a second.

In the 100 butterfly, Dressel broke his own world record and beat Hungarian star Kristof Milak, winner of the 200 butterfly, by a relatively comfortable 0.23 seconds.

The 50 freestyle was the biggest loss imaginable in a race that is simply a furious, breathless sprint from one end of the pool to the other.

Usually it is decided by a few hundredths of a second, but in this case Dressel finished half a length ahead of Frenchman Florent Manaudou.

The margin of victory (0.48 seconds) was the largest in Olympic history for the 50 free men or women.

As evidence of how incredible their time was for such a short run, the gap between the other seven swimmers was just 0.24 seconds.

[The swimmer Caeleb Dressel sweeps Tokyo 2020]

His last competition showed similar dominance.

Swimming butterfly in the third stage, Dressel took over when the Americans were behind Great Britain and Italy.

He quickly took the lead, beating the others by more than a second, giving Zach Apple some breathing space to settle the matter in the freestyle stage.

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July 28, 202102: 24

Coach for the US men's team, Dave Durden, said

Dressel's thrilling victory in the 100 free practice, the first singles gold of his career, "freed him to swim the way we know he can swim."

"It's hard," Durden said, "and then once he does it, it's like a deep breath and then he can go after it."

The only gold Dressel did not win was in a race where he never had a chance.

The Americans chose a different lineup than everyone else in the 4x100 mixed relay, a new Olympic event that features two men and two women swimming in any order.

[The fact of how Caeleb Dressel takes care of his mental health]

While all the other finalists used a woman in the final freestyle stage, the American coaches chose Dressel.

They knew he would start late in the final change, but they never expected him to go more than 8 seconds behind the leader.

That was too much even for a swimmer with Dressel's talent, though he passed three swimmers to take the Americans from last to fifth.

American swimmer Caeleb Dressel dives into the water during the 50-meter final in Tokyo 2020.Marko Djurica / Reuters

Unlike Phelps, who was never afraid to be the center of attention and was always quick to cash in on his enormous Olympic achievements, Dressel just wanted to return to his home state as soon as possible.

He didn't have much contact with his wife or anyone else during an Olympics that were delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was extremely tiring just talking on the phone or Facetime.

He had no energy to go beyond the pool.

“It is not the most pleasant process, but it was worth it. Every part was worth it, ”he said. "Just because it's bad doesn't mean it's not worth it."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-08-01

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