Caeleb Dressel, the heir to the throne of Michael Phelps.


He is the fastest swimmer in history, already tasting Olympic gold in Rio and Tokyo 2020. The challenge, however, is more significant: to overcome the legacy of Michael Phelps.

Caeleb Dressel is clear about the way forward. The line of succession to the throne of Michael Phelps points towards him. He is the top figure in American swimming in recent years. Phelps' overwhelming medal record seems impossible for any human being. Still, beyond the numerical, Dressel's void will have to fill at Tokyo 2020 will be enormous. His multiple medals in world championships and the Olympic experience of Rio 2016 (where he won gold in 4x100) place him as an obligatory reference. He is the fastest swimmer in history; however, you will have to deal with an inevitable comparison in addition to carrying your own expectations.

As if fate had conspired in favor of chance, Dressel was born in Philadelphia, just like Phelps. Swimming crossed his life too early. His conditions quickly caught the attention of his coaches, who saw enormous potential in him. But, of course, the conditions must be polished if you want to get some revenue from them. Dressel grew up with Phelps' planetary exploits in her pupils. If there was an example to follow, it was him. In that mirror, every aspiring athlete had to reflect. His incredible physique (1.92 meters, 88 kilos) gives him advantages over his rivals. "He is the swimmer of the future," said former Spanish swimmer Javier Soriano for RTVE.

The 27 Olympic medals Michael Phelps are unsurpassed in the collective imagination. For 12 years, his name was synonymous with glory. He debuted in Sydney in 2000, at just 15 years old, but the outbreak came in Beijing in 2008. The world witnessed a dominant exhibition that would run in London and Rio. Phelps set the standard. Nothing was the same from its irruption in Olympism. Anyone who wanted to be at his height would have to push their capabilities to the limit. His was an innate gift that nature gave him, yes. But also endless hours of obsessive work to achieve perfection. At this level, nothing is given to anyone.

Dressel carries the weight of that story. He doesn't like the lights. Oblivious to the noise, it has also been reluctant to enter the game of comparisons with its predecessor. Although he has shown his talent in all competitions, the analogies are inevitable. The memory that Phelps left in the collective memory is insurmountable: together with Usain Bolt, he marked an entire generation. Far from the days when Phelps shocked the world with each new medal, reality dictates that his speed has been exceeded. Dressel holds two world records: in 100 butterfly meters in a long pool and short pool and 50 freestyle and 100 styles in the temporary pool.

In Rio 2016, he climbed to the top of the podium accompanied by the legendary Phelps. Pupil and teacher, king and successor. At that moment, he knew that his story was traced forever. But the turning point came a year later, at the Budapest World Cup. The media resonance did not accompany him, but Dressel emerged as the most dominant swimmer in the world in that competition. He obtained a total of seven gold medals. The metric would not go down in the following years. In 2018, he won six gold medals at the world short pool championship. And at the 2019 Gwangju World Cup, there were no longer any doubts: Dressel tyrannized the competition with six golds.

Caeleb's achievements also have extra merit: he has done it with a textile swimsuit. In the past decade, the use of waterproof swimsuits has spread unanimously among swimmers. Its use allowed competitors to achieve better times. The theory and the facts are tied. But Caeleb Dressel has been in charge of dismantling that postulate with pure evidence. In 2020 he broke four world records. And in Tokyo, he already repeated the gold in 4x100 of Rio. It was the first one. On hold, there are six more gold medals. The past is glorious for American swimming. Dressel wants to tell his own story.