Why Olympic Swimmer Caeleb Dressel Doesn’t Want You Comparing Him to Michael Phelps

Team USA’s Caeleb Dressel may be the to watch on the men’s swimming team, but that doesn’t mean he’s the next Michael Phelps. Find out why he think it’s unfair to compare him to the greatest swimmer.

By Kisha Forde Jul 28, 2021 4:30 PMTags
Watch: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony: Must-See Moments

A week into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and it's obvious swimmer Caeleb Dressel has made a splash.

So far, he's nabbed a gold medal in the men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay and has secured his spot in the upcoming 100 meter freestyle final. Not to mention, fans everywhere are swooning over the 6-foot-3, tattooed athlete. With the victory and attention, many are hailing him as the next Michael Phelps. Except, the 24-year-old—dubbed the fastest swimmer in the world—thinks that comparison, er, sinks.

"I don't think it's fair to Michael," Caeleb explained to host Craig Melvin on the July 28 episode of Today. "He's a better swimmer than me. I'm completely fine with saying that. That's not my goal in the sport—to beat Michael. I'm a very different athlete than Michael. He was at a whole other level."
That level includes Michael's record for winning the most Olympic gold medals ever, which is a casual 23, to be exact.

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However, because of his recent splash when it comes to the Tokyo Games, Caeleb—who won two gold medals swimming alongside Michael at the 2016 Rio Olympics—does understand why people are drawing parallels. "I'm fine if people want to compare me to him," Caeleb shared. "I have some goals that I would like to accomplish to where I can consider myself to be great, and I don't have to compare myself to Michael to consider myself to be great."

And although snagging gold medals would be enough for anyone to easily consider themselves great, Caeleb explained that at the end of the day, his eye isn't exactly on the prize itself. "It's not about that for me," he noted. "I don't keep any of that stuff. I get to do the fun part which is racing. I get to enjoy the race. I don't need a piece of medal to remind me of that. I got to enjoy it."

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