Dres­sel clos­ing in on le­gends, but doesn’t care to be com­pared

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BU­DAPEST — Caeleb Dres­sel says com­par­isons with US swim­ming le­gends Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz are pre­ma­ture, even though he stands on the verge of match­ing their his­toric feats.

On Sat­ur­day, the 20-yearold Dres­sel be­came the first Amer­i­can swim­mer to win three gold medals in one day at the world aquatic cham­pi­onships.

He kicked off his his­toric per­for­mance at the Duna Arena by win­ning the 50m freestyle and the 100m but­ter­fly golds within half an hour.

Then he helped the US break the world record for the mixed 4x200m freestyle for a hat-trick of golds — all in­side 90 min­utes.

Dres­sel re­vealed he was con­grat­u­lated for his jaw­dropp­ping ex­ploits by Phelps via an SMS text mes­sage, but he is un­easy about be­ing com­pared to his idol.

“I don’t want to be com­pared to Michael — I love Michael,” said Dres­sel, who swam along­side Phelps at the 2016 Olympics.

“I love him to death, he just texted me to say ‘good job’ — he’s a heck­uva guy, a heck of a leader.”

Dres­sel now has six gold medals in Bu­dapest and could win a his­toric sev­enth on Sun­day in the men’s 4x100m med­ley re­lay.

“It’s crazy, but I got mixed re­lays help­ing me out,” said Dres­sel.

So far in Bu­dapest, Dres­sel has three in­di­vid­u­als ti­tles, in­clud­ing the 100m freestyle, plus vic­to­ries for the US in the men’s 4x100m freestyle, mixed 4x100m med­ley and mixed 4x100m freestyle re­lays.

The mixed re­lay events, which have only been added in re­cent years, make him wary of com­par­isons to Phelps.

“It’s a bit of a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion, be­cause of the mixed re­lays,” said Dres­sel.

“I wouldn’t put my­self with that group yet (with Spitz and Phelps), I’m still get­ting my feet wet in in­ter­na­tional swim­ming.

“I’m just hav­ing fun — I’m not count­ing medals at this point.”

Re­gard­less of what hap­pens, Phelps will re­main the only swim­mer to have won eight Olympic golds at one games af­ter his Bei­jing 2008 haul.

Dres­sel said Sat­ur­day’s triple gold haul took a men­tal and phys­i­cal toll.

“I think there aren’t any ac­ci­dents in the sport — I had three swims within an hour and a half of each other,” he said.

“I had to be on point for all of them, so it wasn’t an ac­ci­dent what hap­pened. It was hard, that’s all I can say. I’m re­ally tired.

“We were ready for it, but I’m so glad (coach Gregg) Troy has a plan for me and it worked out.”

De­spite stand­ing on the verge of match­ing two le­gends, Dres­sel said he was feel­ing no pres­sure ahead of Sun­day’s re­lay.

A hol­i­day around Europe beck­ons with or with­out a his­toric sev­enth gold.

“I have to bring my A-game to­mor­row,” he said. “No, I don’t feel pres­sure. I just want to keep do­ing my own thing.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to that one more fast one, then I’m go­ing to go ex­plore Europe for a bit I don’t want to get ahead of my­self.”

How­ever, his planned va­ca­tion may be put on hold due his ed­u­ca­tion.

“I have a math test in two days, I had to do it at the tri­als as well, and I’m not good at maths. It’s tough be­ing at school and do­ing all this.

PETR DAVID JOSEK / AP

Caeleb Dres­sel of Team USA cel­e­brates win­ning the men's 100m but­ter­fly fi­nal on Sat­ur­day.

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