There was no pleasure within the course of for Caeleb Dressel.
Sleepless nights. Hardly any urge for food. A digital cocoon of an Olympics, lower off from his spouse, household and pals again in Florida.
But, ultimately, it was completely value it.
Arriving in Tokyo as one of many video games’ most-hyped athletes, Dressel met the second with one scintillating efficiency after one other.
By the time he was done Sunday, the 24-year-old had piled up 5 gold medals — one for each race he had an opportunity in — to say his place on swimming’s Mount Rushmore.
Solely 4 different swimmers had captured 5 golds at a single Olympics: Michael Phelps (who did it thrice), Mark Spitz, Kirstin Otto and Matt Biondi.
Now it is 5.
Dressel capped his Video games with a dominant victory in the 50-meter freestyle and a dazzling butterfly leg on the U.S. group that broke a 12-year-old world report to seize gold within the 4×100 medley relay.
Dressel reveled within the triumph, however he additionally revealed the grim toll it took on him.
“I’m actually glad to be completed,” he stated. “It’s not a straightforward week in any respect. I assume some components had been extraordinarily pleasant. I’d say nearly all of them weren’t.”
Dressel gave little trace of the anguish behind the scenes.
When it is time to race, his look is all the time one in all steely dedication, a cold-blooded need to the touch the wall first irrespective of how unhealthy it hurts.
He undoubtedly psyches out some opponents earlier than he ever dives within the pool, an imposing determine with an enormous sleeve of a tattoo that begins atop his left shoulder and winds all the best way all the way down to the wrist, principally enveloping his total arm.
There are photos of an American flag, orange blossoms, oranges, magnolias, a bald eagle, a bear, an alligator — primarily, a tribute in ink to his dwelling state.
“I’m actually good at hiding my feelings,” Dressel stated. “I can put a reasonably good present on earlier than every race, however as soon as I shut it off, it simply floods out.”
Certainly, there’s a delicate aspect that few ever see. Dressel handed what little free time he had by journaling about his Tokyo experiences. The tears flowed freely when nobody was wanting.
The grind of swimming six occasions in just a little over per week, to not point out the stress of residing as much as all that was anticipated of him, pushed Dressel to his breaking level.
“You possibly can’t sleep proper, you may’t nap, you are shaking on a regular basis, you don’t eat,” he stated. “I’ve in all probability misplaced 10 kilos.”
Nobody may have envisioned what Dressel was going by after they noticed the best way he dominated within the pool.
His good approach off the dive, a porpoise-like wiggling that was solely seen to cameras beneath the floor, ensured he had the lead as quickly as his head popped out of the water.
The one particular person race that was ever unsure was the 100 freestyle, which Dressel led all the best way however needed to work laborious to carry off defending Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers by six-hundreds of a second.
Within the 100 butterfly, Dressel broke his personal world report and held off Hungarian star Kristof Milak, winner of the 200 fly, by a comparatively snug 0.23 seconds.
The 50 free was in regards to the largest rout possible in a race that’s merely a livid, breath-free sprint from one finish of the pool to the opposite. Normally determined by just a few hundredths of a second, Dressel completed a couple of half-body size forward of France’s Florent Manaudou.
The margin of victory — 0.48 seconds — was the biggest in Olympic historical past for both the boys’s or ladies’s 50 free. Demonstrating what a blowout that was for such a brief race, the hole between the opposite seven swimmers within the race was simply 0.24.
His last race confirmed comparable dominance. Swimming the butterfly on the third leg, Dressel took over with the People trailing each Britain and Italy. He rapidly surged to the lead with a time greater than a second quicker than anybody else, giving Zach Apple some respiration room to shut issues out on the freestyle leg.
U.S. males’s coach Dave Durden stated Dressel’s nail-biting victory within the 100 free — the primary particular person gold of his profession — “simply freed him as much as swim the best way that we all know he can swim.”
“It’s laborious,” Durden stated, “after which when you do it, it’s similar to a deep exhale after which he can go after it.”
The one gold Dressel did not win got here in a race he by no means had an opportunity in.
The People went with a unique lineup than everybody else within the 4×100 combined medley relay, a brand new Olympic occasion that options two males and two ladies swimming in any order.
Whereas each different finalist used a girl on the anchor freestyle leg, the U.S. coaches went with Dressel. They knew he’d be behind on the last changeover, however by no means anticipated him to dive in additional that 8 seconds off the lead.
That was far an excessive amount of for even a swimmer of Dressel’s skills, although he did cross three swimmers to tug the People from final to fifth.
In contrast to Phelps, who was by no means afraid of the highlight and all the time fast to money in on his huge Olympic accomplishments, Dressel simply needed to get again to the Sunshine State as quickly as potential.
He did not have a lot contact together with his spouse or anybody else throughout an Olympics that was delayed a yr by the coronavirus pandemic. It was extraordinarily draining simply to Facetime or speak on the cellphone. He had no vitality to provide past the pool.
“It’s not essentially the most pleasant course of, however it’s value it. Each a part of it’s value it,” he stated. “Simply because it’s unhealthy doesn’t imply it’s not value it.”