Caeleb Dressel
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Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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One day last autumn, Caeleb Dressel meandered into housemate Ben Kennedy‘s room with an idea: to start a podcast.

“That’s so weird,” Kennedy replied. “I’ve thought about the same thing for a long time.”

The Ben and Caeleb Show hatched.

Dressel is arguably the world’s best swimmer, with 13 gold medals between the last two world championships. Kennedy is a swammer, a former University of Florida swim teammate who is now in law school in Gainesville.

They’ve lived together for five years, now off campus in North Central Florida (another former Gator, Bayley Main of New Zealand, also resides there).

The podcast is six months old, 27 episodes deep and, Dressel said, gaining traction. Episodes average a few thousand views on YouTube, plus rising numbers on audio platforms. They get fan mail in a P.O. box, including a ceramic goose, grandma pictures and, from an Australian named Josh, hot sauce.

Among the show’s topics: the three words you want to be remembered by (Dressel: loving, selfless, purposeful; Kennedy: patient, selfless, dependable), antimatter space propulsion and how to pronounce “crayon,” addressed in episodes six and 24.

Swimming is not a regular subject.

“I wanted something outside of swimming that I could put energy into, and I feel like people could really get a look into my life,” said Dressel, whose Instagram and Twitter accounts show no posts before March 12. “I feel like I’m a little bit sheltered on social media. I’m not the biggest fan of social media. I share what I want. I don’t really let my whole self out there. If you want the best way to get to know me [and] my career, things I’m struggling with even, things I’m thinking about, is to watch the podcast.”

It’s a release for the best friends who remember the exact date they met: Aug. 20, 2014, as freshmen.

“He’s putting in work for his profession. I’m putting in work for my profession,” Dressel said. “It’s no different. I think we both need a break. I think it all kind of melts away when we sit down and talk for 30 minutes and derail.”

Dressel tied Michael Phelps‘ record of seven gold medals at a single world championships in 2017. He broke Phelps’ total medals record with eight at the worlds in 2019, including snatching Phelps’ world record in the 100m butterfly. Dressel has said he’s not aiming to match Phelps’ eight Olympic golds in Tokyo.

On the podcast, Dressel shares more about his life on dry land. Including sensitive topics: being slapped by a bully in elementary school, when he kept his swimming a secret because he was embarrassed about wearing a Speedo. His dad getting cancer when Dressel was young.

And an admission he thought would cause listeners to “rip me apart.”

“Chewing tobacco,” once or twice a day, Dressel said in an early April episode. “Look, I like to dip. I like the feeling. It’s coming out. Let me just come out and say it.”

Dressel set a goal to limit dipping to weekends in an episode titled “Challenge Yourself.”

“I didn’t get any flak, honestly,” he said this week. “I didn’t think it was going to make headline news or anything like that, but, I don’t know, in my head, maybe somebody else is in the same boat with me.

“Once you start, step by step, putting more [of yourself] out there, it’s almost more relieving. It’s like, yeah, I’m not hiding anything.”

Kennedy, like Dressel, is engaged. He swam in the preliminary heats of the 100m butterfly at the Olympic Trials in 2016, around the time he endured his most significant struggles.

“You get to a point where you realize I’m not Caeleb Dressel,” said Kennedy, who didn’t swim for two months in the 2015-16 season due to mono. “I’m not going to be a professional in this sport. When you realize that when you’re in the middle of your college career, that can take a toll.

“I kind of knew I was never going to swim past college — finding the balance between taking that as seriously as I can and trying to be the best I can and realizing that my time is very limited. Of course there are people that are a lot more talented than I am. That was difficult. I’m sure a lot of college athletes can relate to this.”

In the podcast’s fourth month, they started adding guests. The first: Fernando, an Uber driver, whom they did not know personally before inviting him into their home. At recording time, Fernando had 3,100 trips and a 4.92-star rating.

Dressel and Kennedy also interviewed Kayla Redig, a former college swimmer who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24. And Dr. Greg Morgan, a sleep-disorder physician.

They want to continue to involve others. Ryan Lochte, another former Gator swimmer who once enlisted Dressel as a babysitter, would be a welcome guest, but he also wouldn’t necessarily fit the show philosophy.

“We want the most normal person you can think about,” Dressel said. “I want a guy that has a desk job and goes about normal struggles. We had the Uber guy, and that was awesome.”

Dressel and Kennedy won’t be under the same roof forever. But they’re determined to keep the podcast going.

Kennedy will intern this summer at Black Knight, Inc., a service provider for mortgage companies in Jacksonville. Dressel and his fiancee just closed on a house. “We’re going to make a podcast room,” he said.

In the most recent episode, Dressel said that, when he retires from swimming, he wants to run a podcast channel. Or be a dog trainer. Or a janitor.

The jokes are scattered among life philosophies. In the first episode, Dressel said he lives by a mission statement with daily goals, such as making his bed, reading at least 10 pages of a good book and throwing away one piece of found trash. The 206-word statement, which Dressel has massaged the last few years, is published on the “about me” page of his website.

“My dad always had a personal mission statement,” he said. “If your day didn’t accomplish what your mission statement says you stand for, that’s a bad day, and you’ve got to figure out a way to get better.”

Dressel’s dad, Michael, a veterinarian, is quoted in multiple episodes. The two most addictive things known to mankind: heroin and a weekly paycheck. Or, what he would say when starting the car to drive Dressel and younger sister Sherridon to school in the mornings: Engines to power. Turbines to speed. Let’s go, Batman!

Kennedy and Dressel feel they hit their stride by the six-month mark. They’d like to expand — better recording equipment, a greater appeal for guests. Neither feels restrained when publishing their conversations for the world, or at least a several thousand (and growing) for now.

“I’m hoping that people find it somewhat interesting, or at least entertaining,” Kennedy said. “I’m going to be a professional one day. I’m going to be, hopefully, a lawyer somewhere. I’m just waiting for the day when someone goes, oh, you said this on YouTube.”

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Eddy Alvarez, Olympic short track medalist, to play for Miami Marlins

Eddy Alvarez
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Eddy Alvarez realized his MLB dream, six years after earning a Winter Olympic medal, and during a global pandemic that affected his club more than any other U.S. professional sports franchise.

Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist, is being added to the Miami Marlins roster for Tuesday’s restart of their abbreviated season, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, according to Marlins beat reporters.

The 30-year-old was among a group added after as many as 18 Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus last week, forcing the club to cancel seven games.

Alvarez is believed to be the first U.S. Winter Olympian to become a Major League Baseball player.

He may be the second Olympic medalist in a sport other than baseball to make it to the majors, joining Jim Thorpe. (Michael Jordan tried to do so with the Chicago White Sox, playing Double-A in 1994, but returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995.)

Alvarez, a Miami native, played baseball in high school and at Salt Lake Community College before focusing on short track in 2012 for a 2014 Olympic run.

He came back from missing the 2010 Olympic team and surgeries on both knees, reportedly leaving him immobile and bedpan dependent for four to six weeks, to make the Sochi Winter Games. Eddy the Jet earned a silver medal in the 5000m relay.

Then Alvarez returned to baseball after three years away. He signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox in June 2014. He worked his way through the minors between that franchise and the Marlins system.

Alvarez was a Kannapolis Intimidator, a New Orleans Baby Cake and a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Now, he’s a big leaguer.

“It definitely was a chance, picking up a kid who hasn’t played in three years who is starting at the age of 24,” Alvarez said in 2014. “It’s not your typical story, but I play like a 17-year-old kid. I’m running around everywhere. I’m diving around everywhere. I’m full of life. I definitely see my progression moving at a rapid pace.”

MORE: What Olympic baseball, softball return looks like in 2021

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Katie Ledecky balances glass of chocolate milk on her head while swimming

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky will always remember Aug. 3 as the date she won her first Olympic gold medal, at age 15 in 2012.

Now, she can also associate it with the time she created another kind of buzz on social media.

The five-time Olympic champion posted video of her swimming the length of a pool while balancing a glass of chocolate milk on her head. Barely any, if any, milk spilled into the pool.

Ledecky swam as part of a new got milk? ad campaign.

“Hoooowww nervous were you when you did this?!” fellow Olympic champion and training partner Simone Manuel asked Ledecky on Instagram.

“I have never braced my core so hard,” Ledecky wrote. “It’s a great drill!”

“Try doing it breaststroke,” British Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and world-record holder Adam Peaty wrote.

“Is it wrong of me to think this is even more impressive than a few of your WR’s?!!!” wrote 1992 Olympic champion Summer Sanders.

MORE: The meet where Kathleen Ledecky became Katie Ledecky

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