It is unlikely that any swimmer will ever surpass Michael Phelps’ astonishing record of 23 Olympic gold medals – but Dressel looks like the aquatic star most likely to be able to accumulate large amounts of medals at summer Games, Phelps-style. The Florida-born 23-year-old, like Phelps, can swim freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly to the highest of standards – a versatility that means he can potentially threaten in seven or more races this summer.
Dressel proved this at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where he swept the board and grabbed seven gold medals. Looking utterly dominant, he won the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 4x100m mixed freestyle and the 4x100m mixed medley. He became the first man ever to get three golds in one night at that meeting.
And in 2019 he got six golds: 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m 50m butterfly and the 4x100m freestyle. In the 100m butterfly at that meeting, he broke the world record for the 100m butterfly; he also has the 50m freestyle world record. With an extremely strong relay team to help him out, Dressel shows the ability to recover fast between races and go again.