Caeleb Dressel had just out-touched a hard-charging Aussie in the Tokyo Olympics pool to claim the title of fastest swimmer in the world.
The co-captain of the U.S. swim team celebrated his gold-medal winning performance Wednesday night in a quiet, emotional sort of way. He held his hands in the air, like signaling a touchdown, to acknowledge his victory and Olympic record in the 100-meter freestyle. Then Dressel walked over to the NBC reporter, who showed him the live feed of his parents and wife. They were gathered at a watch party in Orlando, Fla. Everyone was crying. Dressel could barely speak. Breathing heavily as he tried to gather his composure, Dressel said he didn’t know if the gravity of his win had sunk in yet,
As Dressel left the pool deck and walked to the locker area, other swimmers stopped to give him a round of applause. That’s an authentic show of respect.
This was Dressel’s first individual gold medal of his Olympic career. Earlier in the Tokyo Olympics, he led off the American 4X100 relay team and helped them to a gold medal.
Caeleb Dressel Blinked Back Tears Hearing Anthem at Tokyo Olympics
So imagine Dressel’s reaction on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner played to commemorate his first individual win. NBC did it with a split-screen, showing Dressel, dressed in his crisp white Team USA uniform, on the podium, and his family back at home. Dressel’s wife had one hand over her heart and the other over her mouth to hold back the sobs.
His reaction certainly prompted some patriotic chills. Fox News dubbed it “Pride on the Podium.”
Here’s the moment from the Tokyo Olympics. The official Twitter account posted:
“Tears of joy. Tears of an Olympian. With pride in his heart, gold medalist Caeleb Dressel listens to the National Anthem.”
There Should Be More Dressel Medals
Thursday morning, Dressel set himself up for another gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He qualified first in the 100-meter butterfly. He’ll also swim a leg on the 4X100 medley relay and try his luck in the 50 free. That’s a race where you take very few breaths. It’s all about the start and finishes. And Dressel has the fastest start of any sprinter at the Tokyo Olympics.
Chances are good Dressel will be back atop the medals podium at least once, if not more. Hw owns four career golds, with two relay wins from the 2016 Rio Olympics. If he claims gold in the rest of his races, he’ll find some rarefied air. The only other male swimmers to earn three or more gold medals in a single Olympics are Mark Spitz (1972) and Michael Phelps (2004, 2008). If you know anything about your swimming history, those are some pretty big names to join.
But elite competitors always remember their first time to win an individual race. Dressel had an incredible start in the 100, giving him enough momentum to hold off Kyle Chalmers of Australia. Dressel swam a time of 47.02 seconds. Chalmers followed at 47.08. That’s a difference of a blink. Kliment Kolesnikov of the Russian Olympic Committee won bronze at 47.44.
“Just trying to take in that moment,” Dressel said of his post-race celebration at the Tokyo Olympics. “I’m not going to relive (this race) ever again, so I wanted to take that in as much as I can.”