Champion Swimmer Returns to the Sport with New Determination After 8-Month Hiatus
By: Grace Gao
A true swimmer will tell you that swimming is not only chorine and dry skin, a swimmer’s worst enemy, but also the thrill at the start of a race. The feeling of your feet at the edge of the starting block, arms straight, prepared to give the race your all. Then, the dive, as you plunge into the water.
These are all things that seven-time Olympiad gold medalist Caeleb Dressel came to miss during his 8-month hiatus. The 26-year-old swimming champion withdrew his name from the world championships last year due to an undisclosed health issue and disappeared from the sport and public eye.
Now back into the sport at full force, Dressel says, “I always had a smile on my face actually racing. There is a difference between racing scared because you don’t want to embarrass yourself and then actually enjoying racing. And I haven’t had that enjoyment in quite some time, so it was nice having it back” (NYT).
Despite his newfound determination, Dressel’s performance is severely lacking. At an elite U.S. championship, Dressel did not make the finals even in his best events. His 50-meter and 100-meter freestyles, which he won at the Tokyo Olympics and holds an American record for, were too slow to qualify for the finals.
But despite the setbacks, Dressel is determined to make his way back to the top with newfound determination. His current goal is to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.