In the pools of Fukuoka (Japan), Russian swimmers are missing – banned since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 – but they are not the only ones. One year before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, three stars of the discipline are among the major absentees from the Worlds (from July 23 to 30): the American Caeleb Dressel, the Briton Adam Peaty and the Hungarian Kristof Milak.
Beyond their taste for the podiums, the three swimmers share a less sparkling reality: each is currently battling mental health problems.
Hero of the 2021 Games, Caeleb Dressel left Tokyo with three individual Olympic titles in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly (along with the world record in 49.45s), in addition to two relay crowns. Barely a year later, the 26-year-old American left Budapest with a bang during the world championships, giving up on competing in the 100m semi-finals, before forfeiting the rest of the competition. Officially for “medical reasons”.
“I haven’t swum since the Worlds and I can honestly say that I’ve been happy without swimming, he revealed on Instagram in September 2022, without ever saying the word “depression”. I finally went on my honeymoon to Iceland, bought a tractor, […] swam with manatees. I know I can swim and experience happiness at the same time […] and I’m working on it. »
Nine months later, Dressel decided to return to official competition at the United States championships at the end of June. Very far from his standards, he failed to qualify for the Worlds, but the main thing for him was elsewhere: he rediscovered the pleasure of putting on his swimsuit. “It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve seen him happy while swimming”, insisted his trainer at the University of Florida on the SwimSwam site, confident in his ability to return in time for Paris 2024.
Accept boredom in addition to suffering
The American star’s package in Fukuoka opens up the field of possibilities for the French, in particular Maxime Grousset and Florent Manaudou, as does the absence of the butterfly king Kristof Milak, rival of Léon Marchand. In the summer of 2022, at his home in the Duna Arena, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m butterfly had improved his world record over the distance (1’50”34) and won gold in the 100m butterfly. “I would have liked to continue my winning streak, but at the moment I am neither physically nor mentally at the level”explained, on June 21, the 23-year-old swimmer on the Facebook page of his Budapest club.
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