Caeleb Dressel Flies Into The Fray As Condor’s Big Gun At Naples Swimming League Debut

Caeleb Dressel of the United States of America (USA) reacts after winning in the men's 50m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 27 July 2019.
Caeleb Dressel ready for ISL action - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Caeleb The Condor: Dressel Excited For League Debut For Cali Condors

Caeleb Dressel, the American billboard sprinter setting a pioneering pace in the pool, is set to make his International Swimming League debut in Naples, Italy, this weekend.

A spearhead for the Cali Condors, led by his coach Greg Troy and general manager Jason Lezak, Dressel, 23, see the League as a crucial step in the growth of swimming and spreading the word on the sport to a wider audience beyond the fan base it has long had.

In Naples, Dressel will join the skins battle with the likes of the top two at the first League event in Indianapolis last weekend: Olympic champion Florent Manaudou and World champion Ben Proud made the rounds and showdown of the 50m freestyle an all-Energy Standard affair.

Can Dressel muscle in on the action in Naples? Firstly that depends on where coach Troy aims to aim his gun. Needless to say, whatever Dressel swims, his danger precedes him: at the World Championships in Gwangju in July, the Gator now moved on from college years in Florida claimed six gold and two silver medals for the USA, including the 50m freestyle world title.

The League is generating new names and numbers for swimmers. Back in the 1980s, we had Michael “The Albratross” Gross; get set to see the soaring of Caeleb The Condor Dressel.

He holds the American records in the 50m freestyle, long (21.04, the fastest ever in textile) and short-course metres (20.43) and short-course yards (an other-worldly 17.63). He is also World record holder over 100m butterfly as the first man ever to crack 50sec in a textile suit, on 49.50 for the world crown this past July.

Here’s the man (and his tattoos, old and new):

On the way to Naples, one of the most thrilling sprinters ever seen in swimming history said of the League:

“I think this is a great opportunity, not only for the swimmers to further the sport but also the fans. 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.”

The two-time Olympic relay gold medalist with his biggest Games moments ahead of him via Tokyo2020 U.S. Trials next summer, Dressel loves the dynamic of eight teams in the League, each a reason for fans to get behind their favourites. With a nod to long-established pro-sports, he said:

“This is similar to the NBA and the NFL in my eyes. 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 worldon teams together.”

Dressel also likes the League’s emphasis on racing not times:  “I like how it is not about times, it is just about winning. 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.”

Suffice it to say, Caeleb, your times are fast. As for the clock not counting: if Katie Ledecky – or anyone else – swims like she did last week, then a World record may fall: that’s not to ignore but so far, as FINA has been pondering of late.

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Caeleb Dressel talks tactics with coach Gregg Troy – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Coach Troy, meanwhile, has an eye on League and Olympics in the way he used to have an eye on College and Games as head of the Gators. Says Dressel:

“This league fits perfectly into my training schedule for 2020. 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.”

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Ben Proud and Florent Manaudou get set to fire – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Dressel faces Manaudou, Proud and Chad le Clos among tough rivals in Naples. The American names no names but says:

“I think there will certainly be some rivalries. Who doesn’t love a good rivalry? Ohio State and Michigan, UF (University of Florida) and FSU (Florida State University), Green Bay (Packers) and the (Chicago) Bears. There is nothing more exciting than good respectful competition.”

His purpose in Naples: to put points up for the Condors. “I will come into these dual meets with the focus to swim smart races and score points for my team. I’ll 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.”

Watch for the smoke on the water…

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