Ok, you caught us. Well, most of you did. This was our 2018 April Fools joke – we’ve left it up so we can all reminisce for the next year about how we almost believed it was true for a second, but it is not true.
Beyond Anthony Ervin‘s, there may be no tattoos in swimming more famous than Caeleb Dressel‘s.
We’ve known since the 2017 NCAA Championships last March that Dressel was in the process of removing the eagle tattoo from his shoulder and chest, but until now, we didn’t know what he was replacing it with. Now that his NCAA career is over and done with, Dressel has finally had time to think about his next tattoo might be.
“I’ve been searching for the perfect spirit animal that captures my soul,” he told SwimSwam. “And the eagle just wasn’t that.”
You can see the partially-removed version from the 2017 FINA World Championships below:
He has since added a tattoo of a bear, but is still removing the eagle area:
Dressel also added an alligator tattoo in December 2016, a clear homage to the Florida Gators:
“The idea started when Jan [Switkowski] joked about getting a tattoo if we 1-2 in the 100 fly,” Dressel explained. “I told him that that wasn’t a joke, and sort of thought ‘when that does happen, because I knew it could, how could I pay tribute to a team that’s given me everything?’ The choice was obvious.”
After completing one of the most dominant collegiate performances in history last week at the 2018 NCAA Championships, citing his trust in his coaching and training, Dressel confirmed to SwimSwam this morning that he will be tattooing legendary University of Florida Head Coach Gregg Troy‘s face onto his shoulder, where the eagle used to live.
“I wanted to pick something that I connect with on an emotional level — something that I want to carry with me for a lifetime,” Dressel said. “It turns out, that inspiration has been right in front of my face all along. I think (coach Gregg) Troy is my true spirit animal.”
Troy, who has coached a number of elite swimmers — including Ryan Lochte and Elizabeth Beisel — in his time at Florida, has not been shy about his close relationship with Dressel. After Dressel swam the fastest 50 freestyle ever last year, Troy allowed him to shave his infamous mustache, and this year, he credited “The Dressel Effect” for Florida’s 6th-straight SEC Championship.
View a recent picture of the 21-year-old Dressel and 67-year-old Troy below: