Caeleb Dressel reacts after competing in the Men’s 100m freestyle final at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials on June 17, 2021 in Omaha, Neb.
OMAHA, Neb. – The weight has finally been lifted from Caeleb Dressel’s shoulders.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist won the men’s 100-meter freestyle final at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming in the CHI Health Center tonight.
Dressel, 24, controlled the entire 100 immediately off the blocks, punching his ticket to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. He finished the race in 47.39, his best time this week.
A competitive field throughout the week of competition caused difficulty for Dressel at the start of the preliminaries, having concluded the first heat in fifth. He never looked back after that.
“I’m certainly happy with that [final’s result],” Dressel said. “I thought that was one of the most technically correct 100 freestyles I’ve swum. It’s not always about time, so I’m really happy about my approach to that.”
Indiana University’s Zach Apple, who finished second overall in 47.72, trailed the Olympian closely throughout yesterday’s semifinal and today’s final. Apple was one-hundredth of a second off (47.78) from tying Dressel’s time (47.77) for first in the semifinal and less than half a second behind in the final.
Apple, Black Pieroni and Brooks Curry will be joining Dressel as U.S. Olympic teammates for Tokyo 2020. The swimmers qualified to make the 4x100-meter relay team, having finished in the top four of the 100 free. Apple also earned the chance at an individual qualification by finishing second in 100 free at Trials.
Securing his first spot to Tokyo meant everything to Dressel. He was spotted hyping up the crowd immediately out of the pool and attributed that to months of pressure.
“This meet was prolonged a year; it was more than ‘I won a 100 free,’” Dressel said. “There was a lot of emotion in this – all the struggles through quarantine, finding pools to train at. All of that packed into one race. It wasn’t just the 100 free for me, there was just a lot going on, a lot of outside pressure that I’ve gotten better and better at ignoring.”
Dressel is no stranger to the ecstasy and accolades of hard work. He is most recently coming off a record eight medals won at the 2019 world championships – including six gold medals – and multiple records set in the International Swimming League (ISL).
While the Olympian is hoping to continue off that success, he is mostly excited to bond with his new teammates at the upcoming Team USA training camp in Hawaii.
“Whenever we are flying over to Hawaii, that’s when we’re becoming Team USA, and that’s my favorite part about this meet,” Dressel said. “You have people from different backgrounds, different ages, different club teams from all around America, and we’re becoming one team. We’re going to make the bond stronger in Hawaii and then once we go off to Tokyo, we’ll get ready to take care of business as a team.”
Dressel is relieved to have his first qualification finally come but quickly looks forward to competing in the 100-meter butterfly semifinals tomorrow and the 50-meter freestyle preliminaries on Saturday.
“I wish 100 free was a little bit earlier so I could kind of get that weight off the shoulders,” Dressel said. “I’m fine with where we’re at right now. I’m looking forward to 100 fly tomorrow and 50 free after that.”