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June 11, 2021

Gregg Troy

Caeleb Dressel

Ryan Lochte

Omaha, Nebraska, USA

CHI Health Center

Media Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions, please.

Q. Thinking back to your first Olympics experience, if you could give Ryan Lochte from 2004 some advice knowing what you know now, what would you tell him? You've obviously learned a lot of lessons over the years.

RYAN LOCHTE: Just to stay calm. I know in these types of meets, especially in the Olympic Trials, there's a lot of hype on and you can get discouraged and you can, sometimes that can interrupt your swims. But I think if you just stay calm, for me personally, if I, the more calm I am and not reading into the crowd and all the other swimmers and just kind of stay in my own lane, I'll be better off. So just stay calm. And then just enjoy it, especially for those young swimmers that this is their first swim meet, like big Olympic Trials. Enjoy it and embrace everything that's going around you because this is probably one of the funnest swim meets in the world.

Q. Ryan, what advice do you have for young athletes that maybe you wish you would have known sooner?

RYAN LOCHTE: I guess one of the biggest things that I'm still kind of get into, like, my brain and understand, is health on my eating habits. I mean, I still get crap put on me from Troy and the other guys about how I eat. It's just, if I actually paid attention on when I was younger kid, I think I would be a better athlete as I am now, just because anything you do put in your body does have an affect on your overall performance and your attitude. So once I started eating healthier, I mean, I'm not a saint, don't get me wrong. Once I started eating healthier I started noticing my practices becoming better and my overall attitude, I was just a lot more happier. So that's what I would say to the younger kids.

Q. Caeleb, does it feel weird to be in a trials without a Michael Phelps?

CAELEB DRESSEL: I don't know if I'm a seasoned enough veteran to be qualified to answer that question as much as some other people can. But for me, I was actually, when we first walked on deck, I was talking to Ryan, and 2012 was my first trials, as a 15-year-old, and I remember where I was sitting when I was watching him and Michael race and it's just, it's funny how full circle things have come now to where now I have my picture on the big thing out front. It's just weird for me because I still feel like that 15-year-old sitting up in the nosebleed seats nine years ago. So it's crazy. For me, I got to see Michael swim twice at trials, 2012, 2016. So for me it's not that weird, but I think for, I think Michael's first trials was 2000, so for some people like Ryan, I mean, Ryan's had them since 2004. That was his first trial. So I think for some people more so than myself it would be weird.

Q. As a follow-up, do you feel any burden in picking up that mantel that Michael has left?

CAELEB DRESSEL: I don't think that falls on my shoulders alone. Michael was one guy within USA Swimming, but he wasn't USA Swimming. I think that's what makes USA Swimming so strong is the team and as a collective whole. I say that every time. My favorite part about any team trip I've been on is the training camp because that's when Team USA really becomes Team USA. We bond together and is really is a collective group and I don't think that should fall on one person's shoulders. I don't think it was Michael alone and it's certainly not myself alone.

Q. Caeleb, I think you were barely out of diapers when Anthony tied for the gold medal in the 50 in 2000. So what is it like for you to see him competing in the 50?

CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah, I was actually in diapers for a very long time. That's a separate story. (Laughing).

What was the last part of the question? I'm sorry, all I was thinking about was diapers.

Q. Sorry to distract you. What is it like for you to see him at 40 entered in the 50?

CAELEB DRESSEL: I think it's great. I've always said this. I'm going to go on record. Tony has one of the most beautiful strokes I've ever seen. I think if he ever got into the 200 that would have been his prime event. He's pretty good at the 50, so for me to say that is a very bold statement. He's got just a beautiful beautiful stroke. So I think it's exciting for the sport. That was the first swimmer I think I really attached to, technically, regarding his technique, especially in the 50. When he swims the 100, I just think he has a beautiful stroke. So for me as high schooler that was the first role model I had in the sport regarding stroke technique. So it's awesome I think for the sport and for Tony to be doing it at the age he is and still competing.

Q. Wondering if you had any doubts or concerns over the past 15 months that this day wouldn't come.

CAELEB DRESSEL: It still hasn't yet. So, yeah, I think so. I don't want to speak for Ryan as well, but certainly, but Troy always had a plan. We followed that plan. I know he had a backup plan in case it didn't go through, but Troy always said, We're training as if trials are happening and we're going to train as if the games are happening, so if something does fall through, we're not going to be looking cluelessly which direction to go. So we always had a direction. That's all credited to coach Troy. I think me and Ryan are just good listeners. That's why we end up in the boat we are right now.

So we got, what, a couple more days until it actually starts, three days, something like that, so we'll see then, but I got a, pretty confident trials is going to go through here.

RYAN LOCHTE: Yeah, I agree with Caeleb. I mean, in the beginning of the pandemic there was some doubt. I mean, I thought the Olympic trials were going to happen last year and then it got postponed. And then earlier in the fall I was still thinking, I mean, there's always some doubt, nothing happened, nothing ever happens the way you really want it to perfectly. So, I mean, like Caeleb said, we still have three more days, so hopefully everything is good.

CAELEB DRESSEL: Do you want to hear something funny? The first thing that got cancelled for me was a baseball game. I was supposed to throw out the first pitch. And that's when I was like, oh, like, nothing's going to get cancelled, and that was the very real, the first real thing I had to when U.S. Baseball cancelled the game. I was ready. I was throwing pitches in my backyard so I didn't embarrass myself or anything. And then once that happened, I was, like, oh, this is a very real situation, and then sure enough, a lot of other events followed suit, and then couple months later, weeks after that, trials was cancelled as well. So that was the first taste I got was a baseball game probably where I would have thrown my shoulder out, so it was probably all for the best.

RYAN LOCHTE: Everything happens for a reason. (Laughing).

Q. Looking back now over the 12 months since the postponement of this event from 2020 to now, what did that year do for you or to you and how do you regard that year now? It wasn't exactly a lost year. You still swam. But do you expect to swim this week as well as you would have in June of 2020?

RYAN LOCHTE: I think I'm going to swim better than I did last year, than I was -- I'm in a better state mentally and physically. I'm a really firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And maybe it was a sign of saying I wasn't ready last year. But I'm ready this year. The training that our group we have done in the fall has been tremendous. I mean, I get a swim with Caeleb every day and we get to race each other and it's so much fun. The other guys that we train with, we just have such a great group, and I think we're all in a better spot than we were last year. So this is going to be exciting.

CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah, I don't want to sound like a broken record with what Ryan said, but last year was really tough. I mean, there was points where I was throwing my hands in the air, I was butting heads with this guy. He put me in my place very respectfully. He's got some wisdom on me so he knows how to handle me. But there was points to where I didn't know what I was swimming for, meets were so far away, but with what Ryan said, I didn't want to use that as a time to become lazy. I wanted to fix habits outside the pool, and then once I got back in a normal routine, we're going to be in a better spot. So I'm a true believer with what Ryan said. I think we're in a better situation than we are this June than what we would have been in last year.

GREGG TROY: It's been a unique situation for these guys at different ends of the spectrum. Ryan, we were pretty prepared for last year, I thought for him. And another year added on, he's not quite to Anthony's 40 yet, but he's working on it pretty hard. Another year of extending everything made that a little bit tougher for him, I believe.

Caeleb handled it in a little different manner. He had so many different things on his plate. Got married this year. His wife was finishing up school. And we had some unique dynamics training-wise. We were traveling almost an hour for practice, sometimes a little bit further. So we did a lot of time on the road and it gave us a little different perspective in the whole group of what we were doing training, what we were training for, and allowed us to spend some time and work on some weaknesses and re-adjust the way we looked at things.

Q. Coach, mainly just about how you tune-up your swimmers when there's such a weird racing schedule like there is this year when you don't have all those data points like you might usually.

And then second, for Ryan, unlike a lot of those swimmers competing here, you've got some little ones that you're taking care of between doubles. How have you been balancing that and are they here? Are they cheering you on? How are you doing that in Omaha?

GREGG TROY: You'll know when Caiden is here.

RYAN LOCHTE: Yeah, everyone will know when my son is here. (Laughing).

GREGG TROY: His son got in the paint the other day, and we were riding out, and he said, Son got into the paint, there's paint all over the house. So he's working on some different issues.

RYAN LOCHTE: But I don't have to clean it up, so I guess that's a plus.

GREGG TROY: The training issues were entirely different. Not having those points of reference of competitions, especially that March through November, December time period. We had to do some things a little different in training, try to get some different evaluation points, stuff to look at. Actually, I think it helped me a little bit coaching-wise because we presented some different things, different avenues of looking at it that the training was almost all long course. We were unique compared to some other people. We had some long course water. We hadn't done that much long course before, so we were a little concerned about some speed issues and stuff we had to work at. And when we did take the meets, we took them, each of them just a little bit more seriously, looking for certain things, and then tried to come out of those meets with, what can we improve upon, where are we a little bit weak. Fortunately, it's not a real large group. There were 12, but over the summer we had picked up a few other people that were looking for water time, and the practice had become a little more competitive since there were some outsiders or different people with us. I think that gave us a little heads-up, and then when we did swim the meets, each of them was a little bit heightened, but we were a little tentative. I think we raced very tentative for awhile. So I think that those adjustments were good. And, again, both had wives, so, and family situations, and I've never had a guy out of practice because he was going to an ultrasound or someone leaving because they had a wedding rehearsal, little different things.

CAELEB DRESSEL: I never missed a practice for my wedding. He thinks I did, but I didn't. I swam. I swam the morning of my wedding.

GREGG TROY: That wasn't my choice. He had the time off. He chose to do it himself.

RYAN LOCHTE: Oh, and your question. You know, it's been very, that's one of the things that I'm still trying to grasp, get my hold on, is balancing being, swimming at the top level in the sport of swimming and being able to go home and not have the luxury, as other guys might, where they can go home, they can take naps, they can go get massages. I have to go home and I have to become, I guess, you can say super dad. And when I come home, I'm the play dad, so all my kids, they're, like, daddy's home, let's play. And I'm like just got my butt kicked from practice, and I'm like, kids, like, I just want to be left alone and I can't. But it's all worth it because my kids, my family is everything. I used to think when I was younger that, I mean, swimming was my life, but now swimming is just a cherry on top. Me being a dad and a husband is what I feel like I was put on this earth for because it's a blessing every time I wake up and see those kids. Even when my kid, like Troy said, throws paint and starts painting the walls of the house, it's amazing, and it's just, it's a new chapter in my life and I'm so happy about it. But it's been very difficult balancing the two. But they will be here. They come in Sunday and they got special Lochte jackets made. So it's going to be cute. And don't worry, you guys will notice when my kids are here. They're loud.

GREGG TROY: I babysat his three-year-old once in a while at practice when all else fails and he keeps me pretty busy on the deck.

RYAN LOCHTE: Yeah, he yelled at my son one time.

CAELEB DRESSEL: I heard that. (Laughing).

Q. Ryan, two questions. How do you define success here? Is it making the Olympic team or is it something else?

RYAN LOCHTE: Well, that's a good question. For me personally, I feel like success would be making the Olympic team and not just making the Olympic team, but going to Tokyo and getting another medal. To me, that would be success.

But also, I have to, there's two sides to that because another part is me just being 36 and just everything that I've dealt with throughout my entire life and the training and everything, and just being here, and giving it one more shot, I feel like is success too. Outside of the pool, I am successful. I mean, I got great sponsors. I have a family now, which is the best thing ever. So, to me, I'm winning. Like I said, swimming is just a cherry on top.

Q. To follow-up also. When you look back, if you look back on Rio in 2016, in the pool and then out, I'm curious, when you look back, what do you think of, what lessons might have been learned, how do you look at what happened in Rio now?

RYAN LOCHTE: You know, Rio, I try not to dwell on the past and I think that's one of the reasons why I'm here standing in front of you guys, because no matter in life how many times you get knocked down, it's how you get up that defines you as a person. And, I mean, I've been knocked down, but I'm a fighter, and I got up and I kept moving forward, setting new goals in my life, in the pool and out of the pool. So I mean, 2016 happened and I can't regret those things that happened because it helped shape me who I am today and I am the happiest person I've ever been in my entire life and I'm doing what I love to do and these guys help me every day. Like, they help make swimming fun again. So, and like I said earlier, everything happens for a reason. It needed to happen because everything that was happening in my life, it was just going down a dark hole, and it was someone saying, You need to wake up and smell the coffee. There's more to life than just being a rock star, having that rock star persona. So, I mean, I had wake up call and now I'm the happiest person ever.

Q. Caeleb, I'm curious, have you heard about the car that's over in the Aqualounge that is painted much like your tattoo? Have you heard about it?

CAELEB DRESSEL: I have. I had a coach in Wave I send me a picture. I had no idea they were doing that. The artist did a really good job. I saw that she made her own posts on Instagram and it was really, really cool. I'm not sure how many hours it took her, but she did a really, really good job of me. I thought she captured it beautifully. So big shoutout to Toyota. And I'm not sure of the artist's name who did it, but she absolutely killed it. But I haven't seen it in person, no, so maybe I'll wander over there tonight and check it out.

RYAN LOCHTE: I want to see it.

CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah. We can drive it maybe.

Q. Caeleb, it seemed like in the lead-up to the trials last year, the question was, how many gold medals can Caeleb win? The question leading up to this trials is, are these Olympics going to happen? So I'm wondering if this last year's, how, if at all, it's changed your perspective of these Olympics, what you want to achieve at the Olympics, and just the grandeur or what they mean to you, has any of that changed during this?

CAELEB DRESSEL: I don't think so for me personally. As I mentioned earlier, my mentality right now, the mindset I have, the mindset within the group, and the training plan that coach Troy has put forward has been trials is happening and the games are going to follow suit after trials if you make the team. So that's the plan in my head. That's what we're sticking to as of right now. If anything changes we'll address beautifully and move on with that.

Q. I guess I meant more your perspective. Like, do the Olympics seem less important in the grand scheme of things to you than they did or do you feel less pressure now than you did a year ago? In that respect, how, if at all --

CAELEB DRESSEL: The only thing that's changed for me is instead of 2020 games it's 2021. And even so, the logo's staying the same, that I heard, so really not much has changed. If you want to add a number 1 behind it, so be it. But for me personally, no, perspective hasn't changed. Same focus day in and day out, looking for ways to get better, and I'm going to stick to that.

Q. Coach, the CEO at the last news conference, I asked him, what is the worst case scenario you're thinking about when you get to Tokyo? From the coach's standpoint, what is that?

GREGG TROY: I try not to deal in worst case scenarios too much in that situation. We would like to have the opportunity to compete. We've put in a lot of work. Hopefully we do well enough here that we earn a spot on the team. And it would be a shame if the opportunity to see all that work pay off was deprived at the last minute, regardless of what the reason is. But it's a pretty big world. There's lots of things going on. There's certain things more important than just swimming, and so we have to keep that perspective.

So I think what he said is right. Our goals are still the same as what they were before. We've worked towards those goals. Hopefully we get the opportunity. And the worst case scenario is if there's no swim meet, we'll re-adjust and get ready for 2022.

Q. Ryan, it's been a good year for athletes that are allegedly outside of their prime, Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson. Do you get any motivation from those guys? Are you feeling that vibe a little bit?

RYAN LOCHTE: Oh, yes. And, you know, the one person that does help me a lot with this is Troy. He gives me those stories of Mickelson and, like, Tiger, and Tom Brady. So, I mean, there is hope. I just stuck to the plan. I stuck to Troy's plan. Training has been amazing this year. I'm training with the great, the fastest swimmer ever, and we push each other every day in practice, and it's fun. So, yes, there is hope.

CAELEB DRESSEL: Troy also gives him the most crap for being old, so it's a double-edged sword there.


GREGG TROY: The average age of our group went up a lot when he came back. (Laughing).

Q. We saw Wave I. The first time that's ever happened in Omaha. What do you think it meant to those young swimmers to get to swim at such a stage like Omaha?

RYAN LOCHTE: Yesterday we came in and we were talking to Brendan Hansen, and he was so, Brendan, his face was just smiling from ear to ear. He was, like, This was the coolest thing ever. The kids, it was their first Olympic trials. They were, like, they were up on, they saw their names on the Jumbotron, and they were, like, Oh, my gosh, look. They were just like little kids at candy shop. To me, that's awesome. That's everything. And that made me start realizing, you know, that's what I have to go into, that's what we have to go into this Olympic trials, is like we're little kids again because this is a new experience. Even though this is my fifth Olympic trials, this is going to be a new one. And it was just, it brought me back a couple notches of being like, yes, like this is what it's all about. Just seeing Brendan smile from ear to ear and like the joy of those younger kids like having so much fun, it definitely helped out a lot.

CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah, I think my initial fear, I had a problem with the whole Wave situation because I related to being that young kid in 2012 where I got to swim in the same pool as Ryan. I got to swim in the same warmup lane as Michael. I got to watch them compete at finals. And I felt like that was taken away from Wave I, or so I thought, until after talking to Brendan and seeing the photos of the kids having their moment in the same pool at the same venue but instead of seeing my stupid name on the scoreboard, they got to see their name up there. So it completely flipped on me of a worry that I thought was something that was being taken away from them, was actually given to them, where it wasn't shadowed by some of the big names here at the Wave II.

So I was really happy for the kids. You could just see genuine excitement where it looked the same emotion that some of the big names in Wave II that you're going to see.

So nothing was taken away from them. I'm really glad it worked out like that. And it was just genuine excitement where they were in the same pool. They were at the same venue. While we might not have been there at the same time, to them it was real and it makes you really happy to see that. So they can carry that moving forward four years from now to where there will be someone from Wave I who is going to be on the team four years from now. So it makes me happy that they have that experience now and that wisdom moving forward.

Q. Since Ryan came back to swim with you a few years ago until now, what sort of changes have you seen from him in the pool and in training?

RYAN LOCHTE: I get tired a lot easier. (Laughing).

GREGG TROY: He does get tired a lot easier. The training's been similar. Our workload isn't quite the same as it might have been in the mid 20s and the early 20s. But it's been real close. We have made some compensations to things outside life. It's real hard to -- there's all kinds of stresses on these guys, and controlling the stress, I can control the one at the pool, but I can't control the outside. And the stress creates fatigue. So we have made some adjustments relative to maybe child's sick, he's been up all night with the kids, he comes in, he's not nearly as fresh as what he would have been before. His recovery time. What I've seen physically recovery time hasn't been too bad, but the mental recovery of dealing with those stresses and just being fatigued, normal everyday stuff. I'll get a call from him once in a while he's going to be late for practice because something happened at home. But he's been really good about that. I think the training direction has been a little different because we're not going to swim quite his full program as what we would have in the past, and just the general attitude. There's a little more maturity. He's gone through some, even since he's been back in town, and safe to say Ryan hasn't always made all the best choices, but he's learned from those choices. I think what he told you earlier. He's much more mature in what he's done. That's given me an ability to talk with him even more. We always had a good relationship of exchanging ideas. The information I get back from these guys, they're really great athletes, and so the information you get back allows you to coach better. And they have a sense of honesty and are real trustworthy of what direction we're going and I think that's even greater now from Ryan's part.

Q. I have to ask just because this is a weird year, but are all of you vaccinated and if not, what are your, can you walk us through your thought there?

RYAN LOCHTE: I'll go first. That's a personal question, so I'm just, I'm not going to answer that.

GREGG TROY: I will. I am. I've been vaccinated early. I got a little age factor on these guys and some health situations, so I was, I was pretty cautious on all of it.

The group's been very cautious. We have been extremely fortunate, staying on top of things. They have been very religious about masks. And we trained at a variety of different places, so we had to deal with a lot of different issues. So we stressed the vaccination and getting it done.

CAELEB DRESSEL: I am. I'm Team Moderna.

GREGG TROY: Always a businessman. He's looking for some way he can get a kick from it.

Q. To both Ryan and Caeleb, as we have discussed Michael Phelps, you mentioned him, he's of course not competing here. It's the first time since 1996 that Michael is not at the trials. What did Michael Phelps mean to your sport? If both of you could answer that.

CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah, I feel like you're going to have a way better answer than I am. I mean, he was the guy growing up. I mean, I remember Beijing was the first Olympics I remember watching. So, I mean, it kind of sucked. It was like having the best movie out of a sequel or a prequel starting off with Beijing. But it was awesome, really inspiring watching that.

As I said, I never really had too many role models just within the sport itself, but of course Michael was the guy to watch. I mentioned Tony, but that was more technique, stuff like that.

So for me to have my one moment with him in Rio to swim on a relay with him, it was awesome. I wish I had a little bit more time, but I still text him every now and then, get advice. I know his phone's always open. I know his ears are always open, anything I have to rant about, complain about. I came out swinging, it was like the middle of quarantine, I was frustrated with a lot of stuff, and I sent him this long text, and I think he just said, like, What the heck?

But he helped me with some of the stuff. He's like, If you ever just need to call. So it's been great to have that support from him, from someone who I don't even know that well, but he knows how the sport works and I feel like he's willing to give me any advice he has. So that's where I'm at with Michael. He's a good guy, in my eyes. He's always willing to offer me advice, always willing to lend a hand. I just wish I had a little bit more time with him, a little bit more time to compete with him.

RYAN LOCHTE: I'm definitely going to miss my spade partner. Man, Phelps, me and him. It's a love/hate thing with me and him just when he was swimming, just because we swam basically the same events almost. But after he stopped swimming, after 2016, I talk to him now more than I've ever have in the past on, just with -- because he's been through it all. Through the media, through the kids, through training, everything. So I actually, I probably text him or talk to him probably like once every like three weeks, and he's, like he did with Caeleb, he helps me out a lot.

As I got older, things started, I was mentally frustrated, and he was helping me very much with that.

But Phelps, with swimming, I mean, he changed the sport. He made the sport bigger than what it was. And I remember one of our first times me and him were hanging out and we were talking, and we were like, like, what is one of the things that we want to do in the sport. And we both said, we want to make swimming bigger than what it is. We want to put swimming in everyone's living room. Like you, when you turn on the TV, you see NBA. Why can't we have that for swimming? We want to make swimming bigger, and Phelps definitely, he did that. I'm trying to do my part. Caeleb is doing his part, so, and there's a lot of young swimmers out there that will be the next Michael Phelps. I mean, we have one right here right next to me.

So, I mean, definitely going to miss him, one of the hardest competitors ever, but seeing him go -- I think -- I get so like, like with him, is because I see a lot of traits from Phelps that I do see in Caeleb. He never backs down, this kid. It's amazing to see what he does in the pool, and he's so, he's smart, and that's what Phelps was. He was very smart about like strokes, about anything. And that's what -- that's what I see in Caeleb.

So I feel like the torch is getting passed on over and it's just, it's just amazing to be in the same era as Michael Phelps and now with Caeleb. So it's pretty amazing to just watch how swimming has grown.

Q. Caeleb, Ryan spoke about putting swimming more on the map and obviously you're already a big name, but is part of the preparation or so preparing for how the Olympics might take you a whole another status?

CAELEB DRESSEL: That's not something I've really thought about or something I'm really too worried about. It's never been my goal in the sport is to aim for a bigger spotlight. If it was up for me, I just want to swim, I want to swim fast, I want to learn from the sport, I want to keep chasing those challenges that the sport offers day-in and day-out. This sport has taught me a lot about myself, the valleys and the mountaintops. I've been appreciative of every opportunity, every obstacle this sport has thrown my way because the sport gives me so many opportunities to make me a better person. Whether you take them or not, it's up to the individual. That's why I love this sport. It will -- I know it will never stop giving me obstacles and giving me challenges.

So I'm not worried about the spotlight. I don't very much care for the spotlight. That's not why I'm doing it. So it's not something I've thought about too much. If I let it change my life, if I don't let it change my life, it's really up to me. I would rather go with the latter option of it not changing my life. I'm very happy with where I'm at right now. I'm happy with the people I'm around. I'm happy with my circle, happy with a lot of things.

So I don't really, there's nothing I would really change. There's nothing I really need right now at this point in my life. I'm happy with what I'm doing. The next thing I need is the next obstacle, the next challenge. I'll be happy with that.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you all.

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