Caeleb Dressel will not defendING his Olympic 100m freestyle title at Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

The 27-year-old finished third in the final of the Olympic trials in Indianapolis. Six swimmers finished under 48 seconds. Dressel missed out on second place, which would have qualified him for the Paris Games. However, he will swim in the 4x100m freestyle relay. He also has two more individual events this week.

Caeleb Dressel won three golds at Tokyo 2021 in the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly, adding to the two he already had from Rio 2016. He has returned to top-level competition after a very long absence. However, he will not be defending his 100m freestyle title at the Paris Olympics. He finished third in the final of the US Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana, where six swimmers finished under 48 seconds.

Dressel is back after eight months out of the pool. His body couldn't take the pressure and he had to stop. He retired, stepped back, and decided to do various sports-related activities like rock climbing and running, but not swimming. His life took a turn, similar to many athletes such as his idol Michael Phelps or gymnast Simone Biles, who also had to take a break.

Dressel retired after the 2022 World Championships in Budapest. He withdrew from the final of the 100 freestyle, despite having the second-best time in the semi-finals. His health had reached its limit.

However, he slowly came to terms with what he does best. He returned in 2023, although far from his best form. The birth of his son finally healed him and gave him another chance, and now he is back. His time of 47.53 in the 100m freestyle was just short of the second place needed to secure an individual spot in a race won by Chris Guiliano in 47.38, followed by Jack Alexy in 47.47.

It was one of the surprises of the final in Indianapolis. The level of competition was extremely high. Dressel has secured a place at his third Olympics in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and he has two more individual events this week in which he could also secure his place.

The 27-year-old is confident that his country's 4x100m freestyle relay team will be among the medal winners. Dressel has been one of the main attractions atLucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, which has been converted into a swimming pool.

Dressel will compete in the 4x100 relay at Paris 2024 and this week he could secure a spot in two other events. GETTY IMAGES
Dressel will compete in the 4x100 relay at Paris 2024 and this week he could secure a spot in two other events. GETTY IMAGES

"I don't think we should shy away from it. I think the world record is an average of 47.3, so we've got a shot at that," he said. He added after taking a closer look at the scoreboard, "Oh my God, the top six were under 48. That's pretty fast."

Breaking 48 seconds shows the level of competition the US swimmers will face in Indianapolis. However, the 100m freestyle will be completely unpredictable with young swimmers like Romania's David Popovici, who won the European title last Wednesday and came very close to Pan Zhanle's world record. 

The 19-year-old stopped the clock in 46.88 seconds in Belgrade. Popovici's time, just one month before the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, is the third-fastest in history. He was just 0.08 seconds off the world record set by China's Pan at the World Championships in Doha four months ago.

Popovici is a master of the distance and is currently the great hope of Romanian and global swimming. He holds two of the three fastest 100m times in history at the age of 19. Both Popovici and Pan are 19 and will be competing in the 100m freestyle at Paris 2024 without Dressel.