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Caeleb Dressel ‘in the best place I’ve ever been’ during break from swimming

In the first episode of Chasing Gold, Rowdy Gaines joins Maria Taylor to preview the road to Paris for U.S. swimming -- including Tokyo star Caleb Dressel, who's recently taken some time off from the sport.

NBC Sports analyst Rowdy Gaines believes Caeleb Dressel‘s current break from swimming will last six months (into December), leaving him plenty of time to recharge for major meets in 2023 and 2024.

Gaines spoke on the monthly Olympic and Paralympic show “Chasing Gold: Paris 2024,” which premieres Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC (and will be available on Peacock starting Monday). Gaines said he has communicated with Dressel over the last year, including since Dressel took a break from swimming since June’s world championships.

Gaines noted that, after Dressel won five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, he suggested last fall that the swimmer take as much as six months off.

“When I talked to him a couple of days ago, he said, ‘I didn’t really do that [last year], but now I’m in the best place I’ve ever been,’” Gaines said.

Dressel withdrew on unspecified medical grounds from June’s world championships in Budapest after winning gold in his first two finals. He spoke publicly about it for the first time on Sept. 4.

“I haven’t swam since worlds and can honestly say I have been happy without swimming,” Dressel shared on social media. “I really miss it though. A few things I’ve done… I finally went on a honeymoon to Iceland, I bought a tractor, hiked another section of the Appalachian Trail, swam with some manatees. I know I can have swimming and happiness. I had them both at one point in my life and I’m working on it. If you need a break, take one. I’ll be back.”

Gaines said the last sentence of that statement was the most important. The next major meet is in late June: the U.S. trials for the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

“If Caeleb ends up taking six months off, which I believe he will, it’s going to take him about three months [to get the feel back for the water],” Gaines said. “No problem. We still have a long way to go for Paris. I think he’ll be ready both mentally and physically when we get to those Olympic Games.”

Gaines also addressed the state of the Katie Ledecky-Ariarne Titmus rivalry and rising Romanian star David Popovici in the “Chasing Gold” interview.

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