Caeleb Dressel

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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Regan Smith caps another impressive swim meet with another historic time

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Regan Smith swam the sixth-fastest 100m backstroke in history, completing yet another impressive meet in Des Moines on Saturday.

Smith, a Minnesota high school senior, won the 100m back in 58.18 seconds at a Tyr Pro Series stop.

Smith, who lowered the world record to 57.57 leading off a relay at the 2019 World Championships, beat a field that included former world-record holder Kathleen Baker (second in 58.56) and world bronze medalist Olivia Smoliga (third in 59.25). Full Des Moines results are here.

“That’s my second-best time ever, so I really can’t complain,” Smith said.

That trio should gather again at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, when the top two per individual event qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Smith’s Olympic prospects are pretty promising.

In Des Moines, she swept the backstrokes and lowered her personal bests in the 100m and 200m butterflies.

Smith, who broke both backstroke world records at July’s world championships, now ranks second and third among Americans in the butterflies since the start of 2019, though she may not swim the 100m fly at trials.

In other events Saturday, Caeleb Dressel outsprinted Nathan Adrian and Michael Andrew to win the 50m freestyle in 21.51 seconds. Dressel, the third-fastest man in history with a best of 21.04, also won the 100m butterfly on Friday.

Andrew won the 200m individual medley in 1:56.83, a personal best by .66 of a second. He remains the second-fastest American in the event since the start of 2019.

“It’s a relatively open event,” for the U.S. Olympic team, said Andrew, who previously lowered his 100m breaststroke personal best in Des Moines, rebounding after not earning an individual medal at worlds. “Try and make a statement to say, hey guys, this is a race we’re focusing on. We want you to know, we’re coming for it.”

Ryan Lochte, trying to make his fifth Olympics at age 35, was seventh in the 200m IM in 2:01.60. Lochte is the world-record holder and four-time world champion in the event. More notably for Tokyo Olympic hopes, he ranks fifth among Americans since the start of 2019. It may be his best hope at trials.

Madisyn Cox and Melanie Margalis tied for the win in the women’s 200m IM in 2:09.03. That’s a personal best for Cox by .66. Baker, who wasn’t in the race, remains fastest among Americans since the start of 2019 with a 2:08.84.

Olympic champion and world-record holder Ryan Murphy won a battle of the U.S.’ top backstrokers, taking the 100m in 52.79. Jacob Pebley, a Rio Olympic 200m backstroker, was second in 54.45, while 2012 Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers was fourth in 54.62.

Simone Manuel and Lilly King took runner-up finishes in the 50m free and 200m breast, respectively, at a meet where top swimmers are not peaked as they continue to build up for the trials.

The Pro Series moves to Mission Viejo, Calif., for the next stop from April 16-19.

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Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Caeleb Dressel headline Pro Series at Des Moines; TV, live stream info

Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel
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U.S. swimming’s biggest stars gather at a Pro Series meet in Des Moines, igniting the run-up to June’s Olympic Trials live on NBC Sports and Olympic Channel this week.

Katie LedeckySimone ManuelLilly KingRegan Smith, Caeleb DresselRyan Murphy and Ryan Lochte headline the strongest domestic field outside of a national championships since at least 2018, if not the entire Olympic cycle.

Live finals coverage airs at 7:30 ET on Olympic Channel (Thursday) and NBCSN (Friday), streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. USASwimming.org live streams the rest of the finals sessions, including the 1500m freestyles on Wednesday and the last night of competition Saturday.

Some key potential Olympic Trials previews via early entry lists that could change:

Men’s 100m Freestyle (Thursday): Dressel, Nathan AdrianRyan Held
Women’s 200m Freestyle (Friday): Ledecky, Manuel, Allison Schmitt
Men’s 100m Backstroke (Saturday): Murphy, Matt GreversJacob Pebley
Women’s 100m Backstroke (Saturday): Smith, Kathleen BakerOlivia Smoliga

It marks Ledecky’s first meet of 2020. She’s expected to go for four individual events at an Olympics for the first time — the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, with the women’s 1500m debuting at the Olympics in Tokyo.

It will take a top-two finish to make the Olympic team in each one at trials. That shouldn’t be a problem given Ledecky hasn’t lost to an American in those events in six years.

Manuel, reigning world champion at 50m and 100m free, has recently been tested, even defeated by University of Tennessee senior Erika Brown. Brown and the rest of the NCAA stars aren’t in Des Moines as they’re preparing for national championships. Manuel’s top competition in the sprints should come from fellow world team members Mallory Comerford and Margo Geer.

Dressel, who won 13 golds between the last two world championships, has yet to race on the top domestic level in 2020. He’s entered in every stroke, plus the individual medley, but should focus on the sprint freestyles and 100m butterfly. Most of his top U.S. rivals in the 50m and 100m frees — including Adrian, Held and Michael Andrew — are entered in Des Moines.

Loche, a 12-time Olympic medalist eyeing a fifth Olympics at age 35, is also slated to race on the top domestic level for the first time this year. He’s been focusing on the individual medleys. Lochte is entered in the 200m IM with 2017 World champion Chase Kalisz and in the 400m IM with 2019 World silver medalist Jay Litherland.

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