BY BOB SCHALLER//CORRESPONDENT
He’s just a teen. Just a sophomore in college.
From the outward appearance, with the writing on his face, the unique spelling of his first name, and the tattoostretching from his shoulder to past his elbow on his left arm, Caeleb Dressel could be every bit and look the part of James Dean’s Rebel without a Cause.
But he’s so quick to credit his teammates, his coaches and his school teachers. And he answers questions with “no, sir” and “yes, ma’am.” He doesn’t draw attention to himself, or take shots at competitors who he admits he, almost universally, really enjoys as friends.
So he’s the anti-thesis, as it turns out -- more the “un-Rebel with a Cause.”
The name on his face, “McCool,” drew questions at his post-race press conference.
While Dressel is quick to smile and share a kind thought or laugh, he’s very serious his friends, faith, family and friends. The name is a tribute to that.
“I took a bit of a different route. One of my school teachers was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Dressel said. “Her name is Miss McCool, Jane Claire McCool, she’s a big inspiration to me. She’s helped me through a lot of life situations -- a life teacher, basically.”
Knowing that might be a hard one to write legibly on his face in a rush, he found a solution.
“Her favorite verse is Philippians 4:13,” Dressel said with a smile, “so I thought I’d just write her name on my face.”
His long-time eagle tattoo on his left shoulder had some company down his arm, which he also shared.
“I added the flag recently to my arm,” Dressel said. “I’m proud to be an American. I love my country. The eagle is from my Bible verse.”
Dressel said that verse, his favorite, is Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
“I’m hoping to add more,” Dressel said of his ink-and-faith plans.
What Dressel has proven to be is a good teammate, and a solid young leader, for his teammates at the University of Florida, as Dressel broke -- neigh, shattered -- the 50 freestyle record not once, but twice, at the SEC Championships Wednesday.
For the final in particular he was at peace, not nervous -- having already set the record, he noted, took away any pressure -- before the 50 free final when he saw his Mom from the pool deck.
“My Mom was right there so I got to see her before I raced,” Dressel said. “Dove in, popped out a good time -- it worked.”
And he likes his competitors -- also, he immensely respects them. One of those in the final was Greek Olympian Kristian Gkolomeev, the University of Alabama sprinter who was 4th in the 50 free Wednesday, and who at last year’s NCAAs was second to Dressel in the 50 free and won the 100 free.
“It’s also fun racing fast guys, especially Kristian,” Dressel said. “He’s always fun to race against and I have good relationship with him. It’s nice.”
For video if his swim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gux3Xip9Go&feature=youtu.be
For video of his interview check out: https://usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=0&itemid=13440&mid=14491