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Why Swimmer Caeleb Dressel Had The Best 2019

By Karen Price | Dec. 23, 2019, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Caeleb Dressel celebrates after winning the men's 100-meter butterfly at the 2019 FINA World Championships on July 27, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.


It’s probably a good indication of just how impressive your year is when a golf publication writes about how great you are … and you’re a swimmer. 

Such was 2019 for two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel. 

It would be easy to say simply that Dressel broke two records set by Michael Phelps and let that be the end of it. How much more do you need to know, really? 

Yet this is the year, and these are the details, that will be recounted and retold numerous times next summer in the lead-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, from which Dressel is expected to emerge a superstar. 

Dressel entered 2019 fresh off a seven-medal performance at the short-course world championships in December 2018, which was impressive in and of itself. 

Dressel also won seven at long-course worlds in 2017, tying Phelps’ record for most medals in one world championships and putting his name in the same sentence as the most decorated Olympic swimmer ever.

But whey stop at seven?

This summer, he made it eight, including six golds, prompting wider attention such as the aforementioned writeup in Golf Digest. 

Dressel now stands alone in the record book on that medal count, having won, in order, gold in the 4x100-meter freestyle, gold in the 50-meter butterfly, silver in the 4x100-meter mixed medley, gold in the 100-meter freestyle, gold in the 50-meter freestyle, gold in the 100-meter butterfly, gold in the mixed 4x100-meter freestyle and silver in the 4x100-meter medley. 

Three of those gold medals — the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly and mixed 4x100-meter freestyle — came in one night.

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One. Night.

Think about that. Lots of athletes would be thrilled with one gold medal at the world championships in their lifetimes, and he won three in one night.

Oh, and then there were the records. He set an American record in the 100-meter freestyle, broke Phelps’ world record in the 100-meter butterfly and helped set another world record in the mixed 4x100-meter. 

He was named male swimmer of the meet (duh).

Dressel now has a total of 24 world championships medals to go along with the two medals he won at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, both gold.

And if all that didn’t make for the best year so far for Dressel, the 22-year-old popped the question to his longtime girlfriend at the beginning of December and she said yes! Dressel and Meghan Haila were engaged at Shands Pier in their hometown of Green Cove Springs, Florida, just a week after he won Male Race of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year at USA Swimming’s annual Golden Goggle Awards.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Caeleb Dressel