Even within the final star flip, Caeleb Dressel is just not afraid to point out vulnerability

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Even in the last star turn, Caeleb Dressel is not afraid to show vulnerability

Caeleb Dressel went through the mixed zone in the Tokyo Aquatic Center for the last time on Sunday, also to put on a shirt. When he was standing in the men's 400 medley relay with his teammates, minutes after they had crowned the Tokyo Olympics with a gold medal, he leaned his head briefly on his teammate's shoulder Zach apple, who brought the relay home.

It was one of several times Dressel snuck behind the curtain in between winning five gold medals for the United States. For the moment, Dressel ventured to be vulnerable to show that swimming five finals in the last two days of the meeting wasn't that easy, and he did so in front of the eyes of invaders from outside the Brotherhood.

"I'm really good at hiding my emotions until I don't," Dressel said at a press conference later that day. “I can put on a pretty good show before every race, but as soon as I turn it off, it floods. It was a relief.

"It's not easy. It's not an easy week. Some parts were very enjoyable; I would say the majority of them weren't."

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07/29/2021; Tokyo, Japan; Caeleb Dressel (USA) holds his gold medal after winning the men's 100m freestyle final at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports 2021 Olympics

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Caeleb Dressel; Courtesy photo: Grace Hollars / USA Today Sports

"data-medium-file =" https://i1.wp.com/www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/xxx-caeleb-dressel-gold-medal-scaled-e1627533061201. jpg? fit = 700% 2C500 & ssl = 1 "data-large-file =" https://i1.wp.com/www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/xxx-caeleb-dressel -gold-medal-scaled-e1627533061201.jpg? fit = 1024% 2C683 & ssl = 1 "loading =" lazy "class =" wp-image-483767 jetpack-lazy-image "alt =" 29. July 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Caeleb Dressel (USA) holds his gold medal after winning the men's 100m freestyle final at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports "width =" 450 "height =" 300 "data-recalc-dims =" 1 "src =" https://i1.wp.com/www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/ news / wp-content / uploads / 2021/07 / xxx-caeleb-dressel-gold-medal-scaled-e1627533061201.jpg? resize = 450% 2C300 & is-pending-load = 1 # 038; ssl = 1 "srcset =" https : / /www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/data:image/gif;base64,https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 "/>

Caeleb Dressel; Courtesy photo: Grace Hollars / USA Today Sports

Dressel could have been the swimming history of these Olympic Games. But the story of the games that was capitalized was Simone Galle, who has withdrawn from gymnastics events because of her physical and mental health, which she has dominated for more than a decade and which should be back on the Olympic stage. Biles spoke to this pressure to do what she had to do for herself and what she thought was best for the team.

There are countless ways that viewers, including the media, have failed Biles. One of them is to deny her the space to be human – if in an ad campaign you think gravity doesn't apply to Biles, what other rules of human convention might exist?

As the American swimming star of these games, Dressel is a constant reminder of his humanity in a way that Biles was not always allowed to. Whatever the hype before the games, Caeleb Dressel is not a swimming machine. His pool appearances may appear automatically, but the process that goes into them is anything but. And, throughout the Tokyo Olympics, Dressel made sure no one mistook him for a robot superstar, with his willingness to lose his vigilance and offer snapshots of his fights to the media and the public.

He offered a litany of such moments. His tears during the national anthem after winning his first gold medal not only showed how special it was, but also served as a censure against anyone who thought it was predetermined. He reminded the media – when asked if he had any advice for Lydia Jacoby in the mixed layer relay – that the 17-year-old Alaskan had won her first individual Olympic gold before Dressel. It's easy to forget that Dressel only swam in the 400 free relay at the Rio games and that his World Cup dominance in the five years since has not been accompanied or guaranteed by a single Olympic medal.

When Dressel wrote an insidious triple on Saturday with the 50 free men's semi-finals, the men's 100-fly final (a gold and world record) and the mixed medley relay final, he admitted he was tired. And nervous. And ready to end the meeting.

On Sunday, he said in both mixed zone availability and at the press conference that he was "kind of over swimming at the moment". He admitted that on Saturday's triple's nerves, "swimming was a lot easier when no one knew my name". He used the fact that he had done it many times at Worlds as a motivation for his discouraging six-swim list and was belated to reveal the fiction of this self-deception.

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August 1, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Caeleb Dressel (USA) and Bruno Fratus (BRA) react at the Tokyo Aquatics Center after the men's 50m freestyle final during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports 2021 Olympics

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Caeleb Dressel, left, and Bruno Fratus; Courtesy photo: Rob Schumacher / USA Today Sports

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Caeleb Dressel, left, and Bruno Fratus; Courtesy photo: Rob Schumacher / USA Today Sports

"I tried to convince myself that the World Cup is the same and the same competition, but here it's completely different," said Dressel. “It's a different kind of pressure and I know that now and I can stop lying to myself. It means something else. It only happens every four years for a reason, and it's 20 seconds or 40 seconds, you have to be so perfect in that moment, especially if you have another year, a five year build, or a 24 year build, whatever You want to name it, there is so much pressure on a moment.

“Your whole life boils down to a moment that can last 20 or 40 seconds. How crazy is that? "

It's crazy. And for athletes who are running away from this truth, who pretend it isn't working, these pressures can slowly drive you crazy. But instead of putting on armor or feigning stoicism, Dressel allows himself to feel these challenges, regardless of whether he is keeping a diary at the Olympic Games or does not put on a brave face for the media.

There is no such thing as a rosy glow. Yes, he was happy to be racing in Tokyo. But he was damn glad to be finished too.

Yes, he is grateful to chase history with friends and teammates, his name in the same sentence as. to be pronounced Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps. But that doesn't mean it's not hard, it's not lonely, it's not miserable. This story doesn't mean that queuing for food in the canteen isn't annoying or the quality of your sleep in Tokyo wasn't lousy.

"I had a couple of mishaps," Dressel said on the Today Show before leaving Tokyo in a conversation about Biles. "It piles up, but it's worth it." He said it as if it were normal, because unfortunately for someone under this kind of physical and mental stress it is normal.

The trip was fulfilling and satisfying, but sometimes it sucks. There is no appreciation, but by acknowledging the fights, Dressel leaves room for the little moments of joy that he showed up at the press conference describing how he and some of the guys on the team taught the girls to play poker, at the expense of the Brooke Fordes Chip stack.

“I was nervous before every race,” said Dressel. “Not every race was perfect. Not every approach to racing was perfect. Not every ready-room approach has been perfect. Every morning when I woke up, the first words out of my mouth weren't, “Oh, I'm so excited.” Sometimes it was, “Oh damn, this is going to shit today.” And that's fine. It's what you take away from this advancement, and I think I've learned a lot. I really appreciated my time here, not because every moment was good, but because I gained something with every moment. "

One of the things Dressel will win after Tokyo is a mountain of pressure. It didn't get any easier for Phelps after winning eight gold medals in Beijing. For the majority of viewers, the next time they think of Caeleb Dressel, the question will be, "OK, what's next." Dressel will face the same pressures as tariffs on the attention and fame that his achievements will bring. The questions of what Dressel can do in Paris have certainly already begun, whether he will invite her or not.

Dressel is going home for the time being. He said he looks forward to spending time with his wife and family, and it is possible that some time out of the pool may be ahead to help bridge the uncertainty of the final five-year cycle with the truncated three-year cycle.

Dressel leaves Tokyo and knows more about herself, as a swimmer and as a person. The world should see Dressel as both.

"It's not the most pleasant process, but it's worth it," he said. “Every part of it is worth it. Just because it's bad doesn't mean it's not worth it. I didn't mean to hide anything. I am happy to be finished. I'm not going to try to cover it up in any way. "

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