Caeleb Dressel Hurt in Motorcycle Accident in June, Almost Missed Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championship coverage is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page. <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

Caeleb Dressel won a record-tying seven gold medals at the 2017 World Championships, but he was well off his best form at 2018’s biggest meets, U.S. Nationals in late July and the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo.

Dressel had provided no explanation for his sudden dropoff, aside from speculating that the transition to professional swimming had taken a toll. But on NBC’s tape-delayed broadcast of Pan Pacs Sunday afternoon, play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks revealed that Dressel had crashed his motorcycle just a month before Nationals.

“At the end of June while riding his motorcyle, Dressel lost control,” Hicks said. “Luckily, he crashed onto a grassy median. The accident happened in his hometown of Gainesville, Fla. Still, he suffered some injuries that had him thinking he might not be able to compete at the Nationals in Irvine.”

When Dressel spoke to NBC, he said that the accident caused only minor injuries and that it “maybe did, maybe didn’t interfere with my training,” but according to a source, he was out of the pool for two full weeks and he only decided a few days before Nationals that he would compete.

Had Dressel missed Nationals, he would have missed his chance to compete at Pan Pacs or any international meet in 2019, including the World Championships.

“It wasn’t anything too big. I had a gentleman pull out in front of me, so I had to avoid him,” Dressel said, refusing to go into any more detail. “I think that accident was as lucky as I could have gotten with it.”

Dressel added that he doesn’t plan on riding his motorcycle again any time soon.

Individually, Dressel ended up winning Pan Pacs gold in the 100 fly and two silvers. But his season-best times in his three best events were all significantly slower than in 2017.

50 Free: 2017 — 21.15, 2018 — 21.67
100 Free: 2017 — 47.17, 2018 — 48.13
100 Fly: 2017 — 49.86, 2018 — 50.50

Dressel still had his explosive start, underwater kicks and breakouts, but he struggled and even looked stiff at the end of his races. Now, we know what went wrong in 2018.


  1. Doug Newman

    Aaron Wands this explains things a bit

    • Aaron Wands

      Wow, I just figured he wasn’t tapered.

    • avatar

      You guys are actually buying this? Sad.

  2. Sharon Rinaldi

    He must take being a champion with a grain of salt.. would pay to be more dedicated.

    • Sean Abbey

      One it was probably a moped not a motorcycle. Two he’s 21 I’m pretty sure we were all still a little rebellious at 21. Three it’s Gainesville there’s nowhere to park if you are trying to get around campus a moped or motorcycle is the best form of transportation. He could have been in a car and got t boned but because he was in a car he’s more responsible as a champion? Also to question his dedication with the hours he puts into training is at best dumb.

  3. Ann Eble Amiset

    Anybody can be unlucky. I am happy that nobody was seriously injured that is what is important. all athletes at this level take the sport seriously or they would not make it to this level. Again very thankful all I. Ol es came out of it unharmed

  4. Byron Shefchik

    Very smart to take some time away from motorcycles. Like as in until late 2020.

  5. Alexander B Gallant

    Profesional Athletes should absolutely Not ride a Motorcycle!!!!

  6. avatar

    I don’t believe it for a second, sounds like lame excuse. He was slow in season too. Didn’t stop him from signing suit contract right before US Nats.

  7. Susan L. Lansbury

    Please stay off motorcycles for the next two years❤️

  8. Jennifer Jensen Treat

    Please just keep being Caeleb. Do not change who you are. Accidents happen……. even for Pro athletes.

  9. avatar
    Peter j manieri

    Explains alot.
    It may not have been the worsf accident but the shock trauma mentally is the same as any sccident.
    He no doubt had alot of his imprinting in training wiped from the hard drive.

  10. avatar

    His Fly still a thing of Beauty…he’ll be back with avengence next year…

  11. Brett Davies

    That explains it all I guess.

  12. avatar

    What a crock. Taking p.r. lessons or advice from training partner Lochte apparently. This is a bad look.

    • avatar

      Considering he never even posted anything on social media I don’t feel like he did it for pr. Also if he was Lotche he probably would have made the accident sound way worse.

      • avatar

        Right, he went on national television to discuss it instead, so no big deal or p.r. attempt or anything.

  13. avatar

    He is full of it. Making excuses for poor performances. I don’t believe this story for a second. He may have had a minor scratch, but im certain it didn’t impact his performance.