Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Caeleb Dressel won a record-tying seven gold medals at the 2017 World Championships, but he was well off his best form at 2018’s biggest meets, U.S. Nationals in late July and the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo.

Dressel had provided no explanation for his sudden dropoff, aside from speculating that the transition to professional swimming had taken a toll. But on NBC’s tape-delayed broadcast of Pan Pacs Sunday afternoon, play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks revealed that Dressel had crashed his motorcycle just a month before Nationals.

“At the end of June while riding his motorcyle, Dressel lost control,” Hicks said. “Luckily, he crashed onto a grassy median. The accident happened in his hometown of Gainesville, Fla. Still, he suffered some injuries that had him thinking he might not be able to compete at the Nationals in Irvine.”

When Dressel spoke to NBC, he said that the accident caused only minor injuries and that it “maybe did, maybe didn’t interfere with my training,” but according to a source, he was out of the pool for two full weeks and he only decided a few days before Nationals that he would compete.

Had Dressel missed Nationals, he would have missed his chance to compete at Pan Pacs or any international meet in 2019, including the World Championships.

“It wasn’t anything too big. I had a gentleman pull out in front of me, so I had to avoid him,” Dressel said, refusing to go into any more detail. “I think that accident was as lucky as I could have gotten with it.”

Dressel added that he doesn’t plan on riding his motorcycle again any time soon.

Individually, Dressel ended up winning Pan Pacs gold in the 100 fly and two silvers. But his season-best times in his three best events were all significantly slower than in 2017.

50 Free: 2017 — 21.15, 2018 — 21.67
100 Free: 2017 — 47.17, 2018 — 48.13
100 Fly: 2017 — 49.86, 2018 — 50.50

Dressel still had his explosive start, underwater kicks and breakouts, but he struggled and even looked stiff at the end of his races. Now, we know what went wrong in 2018.

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