With five golds in Tokyo, Caeleb Dressel proves life after Michael Phelps is still dominant for Team USA

There’ll by no means be one other Michael Phelps, but when there’s such a factor because the next-best factor, Caeleb Dressel is completely it. 

The 24-year-old from Florida positively wowed in Tokyo, and on Sunday morning in Japan, Dressel accomplished an outstanding and historic week’s value of swimming. The underside line on his ultimate haul: 5 gold medals, three of them particular person. That achievement is the stuff of sporting legend. Dressel turned one in all three American male swimmers to win no less than three particular person golds at a single Olympics. 

The opposite two: Mark Spitz and Phelps.

Dressel additionally turned the primary swimmer in historical past to win gold within the 50-meter freestyle, the 100 free and the 100-meter butterfly on the similar Olympics.

God-tier efficiency from Dressel within the pool this week.

His five-gold haul additionally made him the fifth American in historical past to win that many in a single Olympics previously 50 years. Spitz, Phelps, Eric Heiden and Matt Biondi are the opposite 4. It is official: After we talk about all-time Olympic greats, Dressel’s title needs to be included in that dialog, just the way Katie Ledecky’s is

Let’s refresh on Dressel’s dominion within the water, as a result of it is all too simple for lots of those races to mix collectively after a barrage of occasions every evening for every week straight. The primary of Dressel’s 5 gold medals got here on the primary Sunday of Olympic competitors, when he swam the quickest opening leg within the males’s 4×100 free relay, marking the second consecutive Olympics he gained gold in that occasion. (Dressel now has seven Olympic medals, all of them gold.) 

Thursday introduced the boys’s 100-meter freestyle ultimate. Dressel dramatically held off Australia’s Kyle Chalmers by .06 of a second to set an Olympic document (47.02) and earn the primary particular person Olympic gold of his profession. Saturday’s 100-meter butterfly was even higher. Dressel set the world document (49.45) and wanted to take action with a purpose to maintain off Italy’s Kristóf Milák, whose back-half split was the fastest in history. Elite athletes producing excessive drama on the most important stage on this planet. 

How are you going to not love the Olympics?

With that 100 fly win, Dressel turned the primary male swimmer to set a world document in a person occasion at these Video games. His three golds set the stage for Sunday’s finale, and Dressel’s unforgettable week culminated in storybook type.

First, it might be the splash-and-dash: the 50-meter freestyle. Dressel was favored, and when he is favored, he virtually at all times delivers. He turned in a 21.07 gold medal-winning swim. Ho-hum, simply an Olympic document. Here is what’s nuts, although: Dressel won that race by a greater margin than anyone before in the 50 free in Olympic history. The person could must get Poseidon tattooed on his different arm. 

Then, as at all times, the ultimate swim race of the Olympics: the boys’s 4×100 medley relay. This occasion is the pleasure of American swimming and the topped jewel of workforce swimming on the world stage. Because it started within the Olympics again in 1960, the USA has gained each 4×100 males’s medley relay it is competed in. (The Australians gained in Moscow in 1980, when the U.S. boycotted these Video games.) 

After barely qualifying for Sunday’s finale, the USA was lowered to the weird place of Lane 1, versus the center 4 lanes, the place the champion usually surfaces from. Dressel, barely an hour faraway from his gold-winning swim within the 50 free, swam the third leg (butterfly). 

The race produced what’s going to instantly be considered probably the greatest collective swims in world historical past. 

The U.S. medley relay workforce of Ryan Murphy (backstroke), Michael Andrew (breaststroke), Dressel (butterfly) and Zach Apple (freestyle) set a world document with a time of three:26.78. The U.S. stored its absurd stranglehold on this occasion by successful it for the fifteenth time in 15 tries. 

“It is humorous, we talked concerning the world document yesterday,” Dressel mentioned on NBC afterward. “It isn’t one thing we wished to be petrified of, we wished it thrown in our face and we knew we had a shot at it. Even in Lane 1, it did not matter, we had a lane, we had a purpose.”

By no means scared. (And, seemingly by no means drained?) That is Caeleb Dressel. We have touched on all his wins, however let’s not neglect his insane schedule, which included fast turnarounds on a number of nights as he competed in occasions that had been scrunched collectively and examined his bodily limits. He is constructed for it. This was, on steadiness, probably the most spectacular collective performances by any athlete we’ll see in any sport this 12 months.

His mere presence within the fantastic new occasion, the 4×100 combined medley relay, made for compelling theater. (Dressel was the one male swimmer who took anchor; he was enjoying catchup in opposition to seven feminine swimmers.) America did not medal in that race, however these Video games had been one other sterling exhibiting within the pool for the U.S. Led by Dressel and the incomparable Ledecky, Staff USA’s women and men mixed to win 30 medals within the pool — probably the most of any nation — and likewise captured probably the most golds (11), silvers (10) and bronzes (9). There have been different stars, like Bobby Finke, who got here from behind in each the 800 free earlier within the week and the 1,500 free on Sunday. Phenomenally, he gained the gold in each. (Finke may be the best nearer since Mariano Rivera.) 

Given the recency of Phelps’ dominance and the timing of Dressel being the subsequent nice male American swimmer, comparisons are understandably inevitable. However let’s remember to put Dressel on his personal platform. Whereas 2016 was his introduction, 2021 was Dressel’s time to carve one thing memorable. He exceeded expectations, which quantities to one thing virtually superhuman when you think about how a lot stress and a spotlight is put upon the most important athletes on the Olympics. 

Phelps redefined the requirements for swimming, and if we’re sincere with ourselves, we should admit Dressel is carrying that torch past what must be requested of him — however so impressively nonetheless. 

In every week’s time, he went from nice American swimmer to all-time Olympian. He would not appear completed, both. If something, ought to Dressel search much more in Paris three years from now, there most likely will not be anybody who can cease him. | With 5 golds in Tokyo, Caeleb Dressel proves life after Michael Phelps remains to be dominant for Staff USA


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