Caeleb Dressel Returns to the Sport Once Again
By: David Yang
Caeleb Dressel, a seven-time Olympic champion, has returned to swimming after a break for mental health reasons. Despite not qualifying for the 100-meter freestyle at the national championship meet in Indianapolis, he expressed excitement and a genuine love for being back in the water, including the smell of chlorine.
Following an eight-month hiatus due to an undisclosed health issue, Dressel rediscovered the joy of simple things like blowing bubbles and the sensation of the water. He eagerly expressed how much he missed every aspect of swimming and emphasized that his return was driven by his own desire rather than necessity. Dressel had publicly discussed his absence and finally made his comeback at the U.S. national championships.
Although previously hailed as the world's best sprinter, his extended break from the sport has definitely affected his performance on the sport. He didn’t qualify the 100-meter freestyle at the national championship meet in Indianapolis on Tuesday. But being back in the water was everything he could ask for.
Dressel specializes in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events and currently holds the American record, which he achieved at the Tokyo Olympics. However, he fell short of making the championship final and secured his best finish in the 50-meter butterfly with a third-place position.
Speaking to the media, Dressel revealed that his decision to take a break was influenced by various factors that had overwhelmed him. He emphasized the distinction between racing with fear of embarrassment and truly enjoying the sport. Dressel expressed his renewed enjoyment and stated that his goal is to regain his previous form in order to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. He acknowledged that the journey to return to peak performance, particularly mentally, will be challenging. Despite the temporary setback caused by his break, Dressel believed it was necessary and felt he had no choice but to step away from the sport.
Nesty, Dressel's coach at the Gator Swim Club in Florida, acknowledged the seriousness of mental health and highlighted the individual nature of its impact. She mentioned that healing from mental health challenges can take time and emphasized that both Dressel and his therapist played a role in determining his readiness to resume swimming earlier this year.