Tokyo Olympic star Caeleb Dressel makes his debut at US swim trials, advancing in the 100 free

FILE - Caeleb Dressel swims the men's 100 butterfly during the Speedo Atlanta Classic finals Friday, May 12, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Caeleb Dressel made his debut at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Tuesday, posting the third-fastest time in the preliminaries of the 100-meter freestyle.

The winner of five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, Dressel came into the trials as a bit of a mystery after walking away from the sport in the midst of the 2022 world championships without much of an explanation.

Dressel returned to the pool last year after an extended break that he said was needed to rekindle his love of the sport. But he failed to qualify for the 2023 worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

While Dressel's times have improved greatly since then, it could be a struggle to qualify in all three of the individual events he won at the last Olympics: 50 free, 100 free and 100 butterfly.

Dressel touched in 47.82 seconds, nearly three-quarters of a second behind rising American star Jack Alexy's time of 47.08. Chris Guiliano was next-fastest at 47.65.

The semifinals are Tuesday night, with the eight-man final set for Wednesday. Only the top two finishers will swim the 100 free in Paris, though the next four will also be in the mix for the 4x100 free relay.

“I’m expecting great performances,” said Ryan Murphy, who already made the Olympic team in the backstroke. “Caeleb is a gamer. He’ll be ready to rock. He likes the bright lights, so I’m expecting great things.”

Hunter Armstrong, who posted the fourth-fastest time in the 100 free prelims, tried to speak with Dressel in the ready room but was quickly shut down.

“I'm like, ‘I don't want to throw you off your game if you're not a big talker, but I have to know: How's being a dad?'" Armstrong said, grinning. “He was like, ‘We’ll talk after.' It's all a mental game. I’m trying to get in there (inside his head).”

Dressel rushed past the mixed zone, declining a request to speak with the media.


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