Florida’s Sherridon Dressel Thriving With New-Found Belief

during the Gators' meet against the Kentucky Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday, January 4, 2019 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey
Photo Courtesy: Tim Casey

Belief is a powerful ally.

Coaches put their belief in swimmers, but until that swimmer believes in himself or herself, the next level will not be reached.

Of course, once self-belief is achieved, that next level can happen quickly.

That is how the college season has been for Florida junior Sherridon Dressel. That self-belief came from making the first NCAA final of her career. Dressel has continued to build on that momentum this year.

“Honestly, it has been a long time coming for me. Throughout the years, I have had different coaches that have unlocked some sort of potential that I never really believed that I had,” Dressel told Swimming World. “But this year, specifically, working with Jeff (Poppell), we have figured some things out how to race to the best of my abilities.”

A lot of the doubt Dressel had came from within. It wasn’t because she was worried about living up to what her brother Caeleb was doing. It was because she wasn’t going as fast as she thought she could.

“I know I am not the same swimmer or person as Caeleb. I know the name comes with expectations, but I don’t think that is what puts pressure on me. I love seeing him accomplish great things, but at the end of the day, swimming doesn’t define either one of us.

“I am enjoying things a little bit more. I am not racing scared any more. It is fun to get up and race. I was just afraid that I wasn’t going to meet those expectations. I get in my head a lot of the time. I think that is what holds me back sometimes. I overthink and I don’t just let myself race. But I have learned to not worry about what I can’t control.”

Now, Dressel has a different outlook as she leads the Gators in search of an SEC Championship. Check out more SEC coverage here.

“I am looking forward to what is to come,” she said. “I know I can go out and compete with the fastest girls in the country. It is crazy to think that we do have a shot. Last year, that was not even in the picture. But this year, we have build up our confidence quite a bit. I know that we have a good shot, we just have to trust in our ability. We are a really tight-knit group of girls. We are all depending on each other. You want to do it for your team.”

Texas A&M has won the past three SEC titles, following Georgia’s run. This year, both of those teams are down, but of course not out. Tennessee, Auburn and Florida are also contenders, meaning this year’s SEC meet will come down to the final races.

There is no pressure on us. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Dressel said. “I am proud to be a part of this team. I want nothing more than to go out in a bang. We all want that so bad.”

during the Gators' meet against the Kentucky Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday, January 4, 2019 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey

Photo Courtesy: Tim Casey

Florida hasn’t won the SEC title since 2009 and, for the first time since 2010, is a real contender thanks to Sherridon and teammates like Savanna Faulconer, Vanessa Pearl and the freshman Zavaros twins.

“We have been building the program up,” Dressel said. “We knew we weren’t going to be at the same level as the guys, but there was that hope that it is coming. Watching what the guys have done have inspired us. We know what is possible.”

Being a part of that turnaround has been extra special for Dressel, who is swimming for her hometown school.

“We grew up a little more than an hour away. We have always grown up Gator fans. It was just kind of surreal committing to Florida and getting to represent the school we always supported,” she said. “It is hard to put into words how unreal this experience has been.”

Dressel, like her brother, is a strong sprinter, but her NCAA final was in the 100 backstroke. She could swim the 50 (22.61) and 100 free (49.04) or 100 (52.57) and 200 back (1:54.78), or any combination of them.

“I can think back to my first SECs and it is unlike any other meet I have been to. Everyone is so excited to be there. It is one of the biggest competitions in all of college swimming. It is so amped up.

It is up in the air. Anyone can come up and win it. You never know what is going to happen, which is what makes it so exciting,” she said. “My goals revolve around my teammates. I want to score as many points as I can for the team. I know everyone is counting on me in the relays.

One is getting top three at SECs. At the beginning of the year I thought it was a long shot, and look where we are now.”

6 comments

  1. Debbie Sheehan

    Have a great meet. We’ll be cheering for you from New Jersey.

  2. avatar
    Catherine

    Proud of you and happy for you!!

  3. Rich Davis

    Hard to live in the shadow of a great sibling, but if genetics play out she may become better than her brother. Best of luck to you Sherridon.

  4. Mike Murray

    Top Quality person and athlete! Wishing you the very best Sherridon!!!!