Caeleb Dressel Named Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year

by Spencer Penland 7

December 08th, 2021 News

7-time Olympic Gold medalist Caeleb Dressel had a busy night. Dressel was moving back and forth between the USA Swimming Golden Goggles Awards Gala in Miami Beach, and the Sports Illustrated Awards in Hollywood, FL. Dressel spent some time on the red carpet at the Golden Goggles, before hurrying over to Hollywood, to accept Sports Illustrated’s Athlete of the Year Award.

Coincidentally, that would be the first of two Athlete of the Year awards Dressel would win last night, as USA Swimming named him their Male Athlete of the Year. It would be hard to track this down, but Dressel may be the first person to win Athlete of the Year awards from two separate institutions in the same night.

The awards were well-earned for Dressel, who is coming off a historically great Olympic performance this summer in Tokyo. Dressel competed in 6 events, 3 individual and 3 relays, winning 5 Gold medals, and breaking 4 Olympic Records, as well as 2 World Records.

Dressel made his debut on Day 3 of the Olympics, swimming in finals of the men’s 4×100 free relay, helping the team secure the Gold medal with a 47.26 lead-off leg, which would ultimately be the 2nd-fastest split on the U.S. relay.

The next day, Dressel would win one of the most highly anticipated showdowns of the Games. Dressel faced off with Australian superstar Kyle Chalmers in the men’s 100 free, swimming a new Olympic Record of 47.02, and dethroning the reigning Olympic Champ in a photo-finish.

With two Gold medals in the tank already, Dressel had a bit of down-time before competing in his next final, the men’s 100 fly, where he would shatter his own World Record en route to his 3rd Gold medal. That same session, Dressel would also compete on the U.S. mixed medley relay, which would finish 5th, marking the only event in which Dressel competed and didn’t win Gold.

The final day of the meet meant more Golds and more records for the sprint king. In the final of the men’s 50 free, Dressel took down the Olympic Record with a 21.07, winning the race by a startling-comfortable margin of 0.48 seconds. He would then finish out his Olympics by swimming the fly leg of the men’s 4×100 medley relay, which went on to break the World Record.

With the 5 Golds under his belt, that brings Dressel up to 7 Olympic medals in his career, all of which are Gold. He became the 5th U.S. male swimmer to win 5 Gold medals in a single Olympics in the last 50 years, joining the ranks of Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Matt Biondi, and Eric Heiden. Dressel also became the first swimmer ever to win the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly in a single Olympics.

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Mr Piano
1 month ago

He’s surprisingly the only athlete other than Phelps to earn the award. Even Spitz never earned it.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago

*swimmer, my brain

Rando Embiggen
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago

To clarify: SI’s TOP award, “THE SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR” went to Tom Brady this year.

Phelps won SI’s “Sportsperson of the Year” award in 2008.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1 month ago

Small correction: 47.02 was the OR, not AR

Rando Embiggen
1 month ago

Nice for Caeleb!

But to clarify: SI’s TOP award, “THE SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR” went to Tom Brady.

Old Retired Guy
1 month ago

The Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year Award. Many congratulations to Caeleb Dressel. It’s a sports award that is even more meaningful and prestigious than the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award. Of this I am certain, and I know this because I’m an old retired guy.

1 month ago

Caeleb — the GOAT sprinter; congrats!
(Let’s not forget that his 49.03 fly leg in the men’s medley was the fastest fly leg in the history of all relays.)