Three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines sat down for an interview with Maria Taylor on the premier episode of “Chasing Gold,” a new monthly series on NBC Sports that focuses on Olympic sports in the leadup to Paris 2024. As NBC Sports’ voice of swimming since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Gaines was interviewed in the first episode of the show, where Taylor asked him about American swim star Caeleb Dressel, and the challenges he’s been facing this year.
The seven-time Olympic Champion pulled out of the World Championships in the middle of the meet this June, and then went completely silent on social media. Dressel reemerged about two weeks ago, posting on his Instagram saying he hasn’t swum since he left Worlds and that he’s taking a break from the sport.
Gaines reveals in his interview that he’s been in communication with Dressel since after last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. According to Gaines, Dressel was struggling in the in fall to get back into training and “just didn’t really enjoy swimming very much.” Gaines also tells Taylor that he suggested to Dressel in the fall that he “take some time off, take six months.”
When Gaines and Dressel spoke a few days ago, Gaines recounts Dressel saying “I didn’t really do that, but now I’m in the best place I’ve ever been,” referring to his experience being away from swimming for the last three months. Rowdy then predicts that Dressel will be “just fine” looking forward in his career, citing his support system.
Gaines also reveals that he believes Dressel is taking six months off, which is the first news we’ve gotten on projected length from his break. Six months from when Dressel first removed himself from Worlds would put him getting back in the pool sometime in December, or around the start of the new year. Of course, that timeline came from Gaines, not Dressel, and Gaines didn’t say definitively that Dressel is taking a six-month break, just that he “believes” he is, so it’s possible that isn’t Dressel’s timeline.
Taylor then asks Gaines about how much time Dressel could take off from training and still be in shape for Paris 2024. Gaines says his rule for time away from the pool is that every day out of the pool will require half a day of training to get back to where you were. According to that principle, Gaines says he thinks it would only take Dressel about three months of training to get back into racing shape after a six-month break. He concludes that segment of the interview by saying “I think he’ll be ready, both mentally and physically, when we get to those Olympic Games. ”
You can watch the NBC Sports interview here: