June 20, 2021
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
CHI Health Center
THE MODERATOR: Thank you everyone. Thank you for joining us for our final Olympian press conference of the event. Joined by two of our final first place finishers: Caeleb Dressel, who won the Men's 50 Free this evening, and Simone Manuel, who won our Women's 50 Free this evening and joining our Olympic team heading to Tokyo.
Q. Simone, congratulations. How did you get from where you were a few days ago to where you are today?
SIMONE MANUEL: I think I said it earlier by the grace of God, but really just by the support system that I have. I'm a hard worker, I take a lot of pride in what I do. I just wanted to go out there and do my best. I think hard work eventually pays off. Success in swimming is not linear, there are ups and downs. I'm really happy to be on the Olympic Team and do my part to help Team USA be the best team that we can possibly be.
Q. Simone, congratulations. Could you take us through the race and in particular the ending. It looked like Abbey literally launched herself into you, a hug of some sort. Looking at it, you are relieved, laying your head back. Tell us anything that you were feeling or thinking in that couple seconds after you realized you had won.
SIMONE MANUEL: Yeah, when I touched the wall, I literally was like, please God please! Then I turned around, I turned to my right, and I just saw Abbey shooting over the lane line, so I was like, okay I at least got first or second, so I'm on the team.
Then to turn around and see the first place was amazing. I had to sit back and say, thank you God. Because, like I said, I wouldn't have made it here without the be strength that he's given me to continue on this path.
Faith is something that is hard. It's arduous, and it's kind of one of those things where sometimes you don't know where you're going through it, but you know that there is a bigger purpose in the end.
It was a mix of a lot of emotions and what I've been through really in my entire swimming career. It not just the last couple of weeks, but just being a young Black girl and not knowing if swimming was the sport for me and continuing on this path is just a part of my faith walk.
It was a lot of emotions. I have had so much support from my family, the team around me but also Team USA, the number of people who have sent me positive messages and told me that they've been praying for me and wishing that I made the Olympic Team. It's special; I don't take that lightly.
Q. Simone, when you saw Abbey launching herself at you and the excitement on her face, you guys have been competitors for a long time. What did that mean to you to see that excitement in her face for you?
SIMONE MANUEL: Yeah, I mean, Abbey is a hard worker. I think we have a friendly rivalry in some ways. She is a Cal Bear, I'm a Stanford Cardinal, so that's one way to rival against each other. Every time we step up on the blocks next to each other we push each other to be the best version of ourselves when we race.
So just to know the support that she had for me over the past couple of days. After the 50 Free prelims she was like, "We're doing this."
So it's nice when you have a competitor that's competing against you when you step up on the blocks but really is your friend and just wants the best for you.
Q. Caeleb, what's it going to be like. I know family is important to you. What will it be like because of the restrictions not having your wife and family there? How will you keep up and how will they give their support to you?
CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah, I mean, to be honest at these meets I barely get to see them at all. I get to see them in the stands. I know I'm not going to have that luxury in Tokyo but it's not something I'm dependent on. I will be able to keep up with them other ways. I'll get to hang out with them tonight, wrap up the meet and finally get to see my family.
Actually they came to the lobby last night. I needed to see them. So I kind of broke routine a little bit, but I knew I had the morning off. I got to sleep in. It's not something I'm dependent on. I certainly wish they could be there, but I know they will be back home, and you can feel that energy, and I can text or FaceTime whenever I need to.
Q. Simone, I know it's been a short time since you made the team, but have you and Greg talked about how your training is going to be different the next couple of weeks to deal with the Overtraining Syndrome?
SIMONE MANUEL: I think it's just right now important to rest and enjoy this moment. Greg is a serial planner so he probably will have a plan for me by tomorrow morning. It's a plan that I'm going to trust in and obviously bring my commentary into the situation. I mean, I think it's just important to soak up this moment.
Q. Caeleb, Anthony Ervin was on deck tonight talking about the changing of the guard, with he and Lochte and Grevers and Adrian not making the team. They have been such a big part of USA Swimming for so long. What has that group meant to you and their leadership?
CAELEB DRESSEL: It's been huge. I've leaned on those guys -- I think the first time I got my hand on the wall before Nathan was in '17, but that doesn't mean I stopped leaning on him, it doesn't mean I stopped looking up to him. Every meet since my first meet with Nathan, especially, I leaned on the guy.
To be honest I'm not ready for a team without Nathan. I told him that. What he brings to the team, all those guys, big guys, literally all of them are pretty big guys. What they bring, their impact, what they present to the team is huge.
They left behind some really big shoes to fill. I'm not ready for them, and I have to be. It doesn't just fall on my shoulders. I think everyone who is on the team, we're going to have to pick up the pace, because what they left behind is huge from all of them.
I was really rooting for Nathan, but the point of having this meet is to pick the two fastest guys. So everything they have left behind has been huge, monumental. Not ready to be on a team without them, but we've got a great coaching staff, and I'm sure we'll figure it out.
Q. Caeleb, a lot has been made around Gregg Troy and his hard workouts. You tied your best time in the 50 Free after eight days. What went into this week and how much did Troy prepare you to be able to swim so well for an eight-day meet?
CAELEB DRESSEL: These meets are really tough for me. I've always been a double taper kind of guy, so it's really tough getting everything into gear and get your hand on the wall first at these meets, when there are some guys who can really show up at the first go-round.
I've always struggled with that. I'm excited to swim again in a month. There is plenty we can do to get better and move forward from this. This was a really fun meet. I think I got better each event. I feel fine right now. I feel totally good, a warm down. I'm ready to get back in the water with a plan, but as Simone said, you've got to enjoy the moment. I will give myself tonight and then be ready to roll tomorrow, get back into a training plan and get ready to move forward.
Q. Simone, so much has been made over you making the team, but now that you are on the team there is a sense of your leadership and you are necessary. People have been talking about you, kind of like what Caeleb was saying was missing with the men. Well, you are not missing now; you're going to be there. Talk about what that means and what you can bring to the younger swimmers especially.
SIMONE MANUEL: It means a lot that people feel that way about me. Obviously for someone to consider me a leader is an amazing compliment. Making the Olympic Team -- I just wanted to make the Team, I wasn't worried about people being worried about me being a leader and wanted to be there.
At the end of the day it was my goal to make the team, whichever way I could. To know that they're not worried just about my swimming success but about my leadership outside of the pool is amazing. I'm going to do my best to encourage the rookies to go out there and know that you deserve to be here, and you go out there and you race like you deserve to be here and encourage the team to be the very best that they can.
I don't know. I have not actually thought of that, but I'm going to do my best to bring the best version of Simone to the team.
Q. Both of you, obviously we will have morning finals in Tokyo, and we haven't seen that since Beijing. What goes into the be different type of preparation that you bring to really go fast first thing in the morning?
SIMONE MANUEL: Well, I didn't go to the Mission Viejo meet, so this will be my first go-round with the morning prelims, but at the end of the day you have to swim fast and race. I don't think -- I mean, I don't want to speak for Caeleb but as competitors, we love to race, we love to go fast whether we're in season and not rested, and whether we are rested. It's just like that fire we have in us to compete.
So if prelims are in the morning, and the medal is on the line, we're going to have people fight to get their hand on the wall, even in the morning. I don't think there is a lot of preparation that comes into that, besides just mentally being ready to go.
CAELEB DRESSEL: Yeah, completely agree. The pool is going to be the same length in the morning and at night. I don't think too much has to change. You might adjust some things here or there, couple more sprint sets in the morning. Other than that, if you're not fired up to get ready to swim at the Olympics, something is wrong with you, so it doesn't matter fits morning or night.
Q. You are both on your second team. I know a lot of people have said their favorite part of the Olympics is training camp, so for the next four to five weeks what specifically are you looking forward to, and how excited are you to be a part of this coming up?
SIMONE MANUEL: I think just getting better. Trials is stressful and grueling, and once you get to the Olympics you have nothing to lose. Just finding those tweaks and areas in your races that you can get better in, really just coming together as a team.
Just standing back there and being raised up as a team, we could feel the camaraderie, so it's really special to form those bonds with people that were your competitors that are now your teammates. That's what drives us to swim our very best is because we're swimming for each other and we are swimming for Team USA.
CAELEB DRESSEL: I've always said that's been my most favorite part about every National Team trip I've been on is the training trip. It's just messing around, making memories, a good laugh here or there, everyone is on taper so everyone is feeling good about themselves. It really is -- I don't want to tell you guys stories, but it's such a good time. I mean all of it. Even when you get to the venue itself, like Simone said, training camp is when you become Team USA.
I'm looking forward to that. Doesn't happen overnight. The team is so young I'm going to have to learn everyone's name. I'm so bad with names so I'm kind of nervous about that. I'm excited for training camp and then the nerves are done. This was the hard part. Simone nailed it, this meet is grueling. There are parts of this meet that really, really suck, but there are parts of this meet that are really, really fun if you get your hand on the wall first or second. So looking forward to training camp and making some memories.
Q. Caeleb what does it mean to you and your training group that you guys swept the Freestyle events? I mean that's pretty amazing.
CAELEB DRESSEL: Whoa! I forgot! Someone talked about that. I didn't even think about that. I guess I haven't had time to think about it. I'll text Bobby and Kieran and let them know I think the boys did all right there. Funny, we've got a good group going. I'm sure you guys have talked to them. They're class-act guys. I am excited to be on the team with them, I look up to both those guys, I've said it before.
And Bobby was even talking "heat" in warm-up. He was saying he wanted to race me. I was warming up for the session and Bobby said he wanted to race me a 25. I didn't want to embarrass him, so I kind of let that one go. But both those guys are awesome. Looking forward to being USA teammates with them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone.
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