Caeleb Dressel was smiling from ear to ear.
Dressel, a 24-year-old from Florida, joined an elite club of American swimmers who have won Olympic gold in the men's 100-meter-freestyle. Johnny Weissmuller, Mark Spitz, Rowdy Gaines, Matt Biondi and Nathan Adrian welcomed Dressel with open arms.
The moment was a lot to process. It would be for anyone who accomplished a lifelong dream.
Caeleb Dressel Wins Gold Medal in Men's 100m Freestyle
Dressel entered the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as one of the top Team USA athletes to watch. He proved he had the skills as a member of the gold medal-winning 4x100-meter freestyle relay and 4x100-meter medley at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Older, wiser and in his athletic prime, the games in Japan were primed to be the Caeleb Dressel Show.
Dressel was the favorite heading into the 100-meter freestyle final as two-time world champion in the event. His competition was stiff.
Russian Olympic Committee's Kliment Kolesnikov swam to his right. Australia's Kyle Chambers was a few lanes down.
Dressel exploded off the blocks to jump out to an early lead. He held on through the turn. Kolesnikov and Chambers started gaining midway through the second length. All three swimmers were booking it.
Dressel never took his foot off the gas medal. He held on to capture the gold with a time of 47.02 seconds, narrowly edging Chambers by .06 seconds. The Australian swimmer was the defending champ in the event.
It was electrifying. It was exciting. It was Dressel's first individual Olympic gold medal, a new Olympic record time and his second gold of the Tokyo games.
The American swimmer kept his celebratory composure until the post-race interview.
Caeleb Dressel's Emotional Family Moment
The emotions of gold for @TeamUSA's Caeleb Dressel.
He reached the dream. #TokyoOlympics
?: NBC Sports App pic.twitter.com/DsFw6LPu1a
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) July 29, 2021
Awesome moment between Caeleb Dressel and his family after he takes home the gold in the 100m Freestyle AND sets a new #Olympics record. ???? pic.twitter.com/GNztRuqPrA
— Green Light with Chris Long (@greenlight) July 29, 2021
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The gravity of the moment finally hit Dressel. He talked about the hardships of the past year, and how everything came together to get the win.
The interview shifted over to Microsoft Teams, where Dressel's family congratulated him.
Dressel was at a loss for words as his family said hello. This is what sports are all about. Seeing this side of athletes makes them seem human, something we sometimes forget when they're out there performing nonhuman feats.
The newest gold-medalist isn't done yet. He's competing in the 100-meter butterfly, 4x100-meter medley relay and the 50-meter freestyle.
Dressel showed all of his emotions on his face after winning individual gold for the first time. That face is the new face of USA Swimming.
MORE: Michael Phelps Married a Miss USA Contestant & Had 3 Kids
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