Ahead of his International Swimming League debut Saturday for the Cali Condors, Caeleb Dressel spoke on what made the endeavor appealing to him.
“I think this is a great opportunity, not only for the swimmers to further the sport but also the fans,” he said in an interview published by the league. “This is an exciting way to get more people involved with this sport to better understand how we work and operate, and see us on a global stage but still keep it personal with the team aspect.”
In particular, he’s excited about the prospect of fans engaging with teams as they would in other pro sports.
“This is similar to the NBA and the NFL in my eyes,” he said. “Fans can attach to specific teams based on not only who is on it but also with the city/state we are representing. I’m excited to be a part of this and grow this sport not only within the National Team of the USA but bring together the whole world on teams together.”
While the ISL’s focus on finish place over times has caused some debate amongst fans, the notoriously competitive Dressel supports the winning-oriented setup – he admitted he doesn’t even know short course meters times very well, anyway.
“I like how it is not about times, it is just about winning,” he said. “At the end of the day it is who gets their hand on the wall first. This is like dual meets in college. Nobody would go crazy fast times in-season, but it was still exciting to just try and win.”
“Times are irrelevant in this league and I think that is great. Most fans may not be familiar with times ( I don’t even know short course meter times very well) but they will be familiar with winning.”
While Dressel was a late signee to the Condors, prompting speculation about whether he would join the league at all, he says his coach Gregg Troy supports the format.
“This league fits perfectly into my training schedule for 2020,” he said. “Coach Troy thinks this league and the stops I’m doing are actually a better fit for training than staying back in Gainesville. He wants me to get some racing in this fall and sees this working out to my benefit for my training cycle.”
After sitting out the first meet – in which Florent Manaudou made a statement with a 20.77 U.S. Open record in the 50-meter free – Dressel is excited about the potential to form rivalries.
“I think there will certainly be some rivalries. Who doesn’t love a good rivalry?,” he said. “Ohio State and Michigan, UF and FSU, Green Bay [Packers] and the [Chicago] Bears. There is nothing more exciting than good respectful competition.”
Dressel, who lit up short course yards competition in college in every event he attempted, is ready to again be a threat wherever he’s needed.
I will come into these dual meets with the focus to swim smart races and score points for my team,” he said.” I will swim whatever the coaching staff, managers, and teammates need me to swim. My job is to score points for this team and I want to help with that in any way that I can.”