GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — Michael Phelps was watching from his home in Arizona, and told The Associated Press that Caeleb Dressel would have to be perfect to win seven or eight golds in Tokyo. Phelps, of course, won eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“If there’s someone who doesn’t care how hard it’s going to be, how hard they’re going to have to work, how much pain they’re willing to put their body through, we might see it,” he said by phone.
Dressel won eight medals, including six golds, at the world championships, the biggest meet outside the Olympics. Two years ago in Hungary, he tied Phelps’ record of seven golds at a single worlds, including three in one night.
He would have to add an event to his program to get to eight at the Olympics, given two of his nine events at worlds are not on the Olympic schedule.
Phelps suggested Dressel could be a “great addition” to the 4x200m free relay.
“Clearly, he’s got the speed,” he said. “At this point, he’s just got to have better endurance.”
Dressel still feels his retired teammate’s influence. He knows the 23-time Olympic gold medalist’s times and watched how Phelps swam his races.
“It’s really special for me just to have that one little moment where I claimed I was the best in the history of swimming,” Dressel said. “Just a young kid from a small town, it’s just crazy how far the sport can go.”
Like Phelps, Dressel is his own worst critic. The 22-year-old Floridian picks apart each of his races, whether the result is gold, a world record or something less lofty.
“I always look for the bad,” he said. “There’s plenty to improve on. I know what to look for heading into next year, even for small meets. I take each event and I have to learn from it.”
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