Caeleb Dressel looks on at the TYR Pro Swim Series on March 5, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Dear 2020 Caeleb,
I am writing this letter to you to start off the New Year 2020. Right now, you are working hard to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which are set to take place in six months time. This would be your second Olympics. You have already set goals for Tokyo, ones you hope will make your parents and your country proud.
But what you — and the rest of the world — don’t know right now is that a worldwide virus will hit the U.S. in March and shut down the world. Not only will a new global pandemic cause entire countries to quarantine for weeks at a time, but the virus will also postpone the Tokyo Games by one year.
Since you know the only things you can control in your life are your thoughts and your choices — and not your circumstances — there is nothing you would do differently even knowing what is to come.
Despite this thing people will call the coronavirus, you will eventually still get to train, be with your team, and even compete.
Life will be different, but you need to trust in Troy’s coaching plan for you and enjoy the break. The time off from your sport will leave you craving racing and competition. And when you do get to come back, it will be the most you’ve ever enjoyed your sport. It will be the fuel that pushes you to break four world records in November at ISL (International Swimming League) in Budapest.
The competition will be such a fun environment; it won’t even feel like a competition. It will be a place where you will get to be together for six weeks in a bubble with swimmers you admire and respect.
Lean on your teammates. Use them to make you better, and push them to do the same. This year is about holding yourself accountable, and your coach and your teammates will be there to support you.
Training will look different. Practice times will change, locations will change and things will be challenging. But in the end, this virus will bring everyone together, making us all push harder as one. Use this as an opportunity to grow and learn not only as an athlete, but a person.
Your mental conditioning will also be important during this time and something you will spend a lot of time on this year since you will be out of the water more than you ever have before.
This break will also give you time in your personal life.
At the end of 2019 you proposed to your girlfriend, Meghan Haila. Time off from swimming will give you the ability to plan your wedding and find the house of your dreams, where you will host holidays and start your new life together.
Despite the obstacles, 2020 will be a great year for you.
Use the momentum from 2020 to push you into 2021 and the Tokyo Games. As the year comes to a close you will be plenty motivated to reach your potential and find your greatness. You will be starving to get better, to compete and to challenge yourself.
Remember all the lessons you learned in 2020: how much you enjoyed eating clean, taking time to read in the mornings, taking time away from your phone and social media.
Now as you kick off 2021, prepare for an exciting year. Tokyo is one of our favorite cities, and a place we always look forward to going back to. Before long you will be back in Tokyo competing at the Olympic Games on the world’s largest stage.
2020 might be a wild year, but head up and get ready for everything to come in 2021.