First Coast native Caeleb Dressel makes a splash at Tokyo Olympics

Riley Platt, Sports Reporter

Featured image: AP Photo/David Goldman

No matter how global the stage, northeast Florida always seems to find a way to be attached. This is the case with this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, where the pride of Clay County has dominated in the pool.

Caeleb Dressel is no stranger to success, bursting onto the Olympic scene at Rio in 2016, securing the gold medal in the 4×100 meter Freestyle Relay. This early success would put high expectations on Dressel’s shoulders, but he has shown that he is more than capable of living up to the pressure.

The Green Cove Springs native attended Clay High School but swam with the famed Bolles School swim team. The program has produced at least one All-American yearly in swimming and diving, dating all the way back to 1969. This prestigious lineup includes countless Olympians, such as Dressel.

Following his time with Bolles, Dressel took to the University of Florida, one of the nation’s most successful collegiate swimming programs. Despite his proven success, nothing was certain going into one of the strangest Olympics in the history of the games, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If there was any doubt, to begin with, Dressel and the United States quickly put it to rest with a gold medal in the 4×100 meter Freestyle Relay. He would follow this up with a gold medal of his own in the 100-meter freestyle event. 

Winning gold is one thing, but few have the bragging rights of breaking world records. Dressel fit the bill with his first-place finish in the 100-meter Butterfly final, edging out Hungarian star Kristóf Milák. The exciting race was highlighted by yet another Caeleb Dressel accomplishment: breaking the world record with a time of 49.45 seconds. 

 Maze celebrating Dressel at Amazing Grace Family Farms in Green Cove Springs (News4Jax)

As if he hadn’t already put on a show in Tokyo, Dressel still wasn’t done racking up medals. Alongside former fellow Bolles swimmer Ryan Murphy, the United States brought home the gold in 4×100 meter Medley Relay. All in the same day, Dressel also took gold in the 50-meter freestyle event. This win saw him break the Olympic record with a time of 21.07 seconds.

The story of Caeleb Dressel goes to show that anyone from anywhere can go on to do great things. Coming from a town of less than 10,000 people, Dressel has become an international star in swimming circles and beyond. Let this serve as inspiration to also go make an impact, no matter your roots.


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