Caeleb Dressel Unpacks His Journey Back to Swimming Since 2022 World Champs

7-time Olympic gold medalist and Team Speedo athlete Caeleb Dressel talked with SwimSwam for nearly an hour, detailing his journey back to the sport since his abrupt departure from the 2022 World Championships in Budapest. Caeleb’s  plain-spoken, funny, and he does channel vulnerability as strength in this interview. Coming off a big Speedo international photo shoot with all of his Team Speedo peers from allover the world, Caeleb was in good spirits and ready to talk on this topic.

I don’t want to speak for him, so I’ll strive to be brief outlining what he shared.

During and immediately after 2022 World Champs there was not a public statement from Caeleb because he didn’t fully know what was happening to him, but it was clearly a mental health event. In his words — I went numb. Back home he immediately starting seeing a therapist, a therapist who he continues to see. Moreover, in the immediate aftermath and for months, Caeleb was unsure if he could continue as an athlete.  Taking care of his mental health was the only priority.

For those who are in therapy or have experience with therapy, Dressel did a very deep dive.  For some further insight, two books he read that were meaningful for him in his  recovery process are:

Swim fans may remember Caeleb’s high school years and a period of time he took away from competition. That wasn’t talked about much at that time,  but in this interview Caeleb confirms and explains what happened at the 2022 World Champs was similar to what he experienced in high school.

Coach Anthony Nesty, mindful of what Caeleb’s been working through, held Caeleb back in training. The process of reentering training has been very slow.  Caeleb adds a lot of context to the topic.

U.S. World Trials was an unknown for Caeleb, but after so much time away pool he wanted to race and be back among his peers. It was fun to race, but tough not being in the center lanes.  Caeleb confirms, yes, his fly was better than his free in his opinion, but with so little training U.S. World Trials was just a check on where’s he at in the process.

Caeleb’s a yes-man.  He says yes to everything, and that clearly hurt him–the pressure of the media hurt. In his words — I’m not wired for media or social media. I like being in the pool or on my farm.  It sounds like he’ll manage media differently going forward.

Caeleb wants to swim through LA2028. He wants to race as long as he can find meaning and excitement in the sport. He loves USA Swimming’s Olympic Trials in front of the hometown crowd. LA2028 is a goal.

Caeleb, post-career, will stay in swimming. Caeleb wants to be a swimming coach. Caeleb plans to race as long as his ability and training allows him to be competitive as an elite.

Caeleb watched some events at 2023 World Champs, and he followed the results.  He things Team USA’s performance was great a year out from the 2024 Olympics, noting the 20 silver medals.

There’s a lot more in this podcast interview. I hope you appreciate his candor.

This post was possible thanks to SwimSwam partner, Speedo We are aware Speedo has a big 2024 reveal coming, which was the reason for the big Speedo International photo shoot, but Speedo has not confirm the dates of the announcement yet.


Music: Otis McDonald

Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

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1 month ago

The only reason I can imagine Caeleb watching the men’s 200free is because he has a special eye on Popovici. Doesn’t matter that he wasn’t at his best this year

Mark Usher
1 month ago

Great interview.

1 month ago

Thanks for sharing this. So strong. So important. All Parents and Age Groupers should listen to this.

1 month ago

Really puts into perspective how insane it was that Michael Phelps didn’t take a single day off from practice from 2000 to 2008.

Reply to  Gaynes
1 month ago

If you think that’s actually true, you’re kidding yourself

Reply to  Gaynes
1 month ago

I think it was 2003-2008 but yeah still next level

Iambic Pentameter
1 month ago

What a fantastic role model for the son he is about to have.

The world at his feet
1 month ago

Kick rocks Brett Hawke

Reply to  The world at his feet
1 month ago

What’d he say?

1 month ago

Let’s go Caleb, you can do it! Sha’Carri just brought that outside smoke! It’s comeback season!

1 month ago

Man, he’s going to be an incredible coach. He’s got strong emotional intelligence, deep understanding of swimming mechanics, and experience with all facets of elite competition.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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