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I'll train in my living room if I have to - Dressel on COVID-19 & Olympics

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GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (APRIL 3, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC AND WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPION, CAELEB DRESSEL, SAYING:

"If the swimming pools get shut down then I guess I'm going to get really good at running. There are ways around it just to keep that heart rate up but for the most part we're all in the same boat, but it is tough. I mean of course I would like to have my normal routine, but I don't have that, so what are the next steps to take. If I have to train in my living room, if they completely shut everything down or I can't leave the house then I'm training in the living room. Like I said, it's a part of the puzzle, it's a part of the process. If I don't have something available, then we'll make do. So, if I have to train in my living room then I'll get ready."

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC AND WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPION, CAELEB DRESSEL, SAYING:

"It's been weird. That's the best word I have for everything. I mean, 100% I don't want to make light of this situation at all. I understand the severity but it's been weird for everybody, not just me, just how empty the streets are and how you want to make plans to go to the beach or go to downtown or something and it's just like 'Oh wait, we can't do that right now'. So definitely taking precautions and stuff. A lot of shops… all the shops are closed. Really the only thing open for us is food that you can order to go and then grocery stores have the one in one out policy if you want to buy groceries. So, I've been cooking a lot more than I normally do. And then get to hang out with my roommates. So, it's been definitely different but I'm starting to settle into a routine during this time and that will be good so it hasn't been too bad."

4. WHITE FLASH

5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC AND WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPION, CAELEB DRESSEL, SAYING:

"There is one pool open that's about 45 minutes away from me and then I am fortunate enough to have my strength coach actually has all his equipment, all the needed equipment with the normal weight routine I'm on in his garage. So, weights has been fine, my strength levels are fine, just maintaining the best I can. I don't want to fry myself at this moment like I was saying because the meet (Olympic Games) is so far along and kind of out of reach a little bit but I have pool time Monday to Friday, 45 minutes away - only singles - but I'll drive further if I have to. I don't know, again, it's just with uncertainties. I don't know how long that pool is going to be open. It's a small group, we're not breaking any of the rules that we have in place here. It's a very small group that's going up there to train, we sign waivers before we get in the water of we're symptom free, we haven't been out of the state, all this stuff. So we're taking the right steps for sure. I don't want to put anyone in harm's way just so I can get to a pool in Florida but it has been tough. I miss swimming."

6. WHITE FLASH

7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC AND WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPION, CAELEB DRESSEL, SAYING:

"I mean it's been awesome. I mean just to have something because there's so many uncertainties right now, you know. I don't know when my next swim meet is going to be. I don't know when I'm going to be back in the pool I normally train at. I don't know when campus is going to open up again. There's uncertainties for everybody - I'm not the only one in this boat, I don't want to play the victim here in any part. I still have a job. The worst thing is my Olympics got cancelled - OK, I wasn't even on the Olympic team, OK. So really the worst thing for me was the U.S. Olympic trials got cancelled, OK, I wasn't even guaranteed a spot going to Tokyo. So, it's fine. (They're) not even cancelled, they're postponed so OK my meet is a year later that's the worst thing that can happen to me. So to be able to have through all this uncertainty a meet that we know is going to happen, financial gains that are in place already through (Ukrainian businessman) Konstantin (Grigorishin) and ISL (International Swimming League); it's huge for everyone to have that fallback during a time like this and to have that support through ISL which was so much fun last year. I mean, enjoyed it, the new team mates I made, being a part of a whole new team that didn't exist before rather than a country which is how typically all swimming competitions are setup - country v country - so it's nice to have that unity of course within not just one country but swimmers from all over the world to be able to fallback on that same plan that was put in place last year and then to come up with that whether it was plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D, whatever from Konstantin and to have something in place that is for sure is tremendous. It's huge for us, to have that support it means so much because swimming is not the biggest sport in the world, I totally understand that, I don't really care but to have someone who does care about us; it's massive."

8. WHITE FLASH

9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC AND WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPION, CAELEB DRESSEL, SAYING:

"So, I like the idea. I think it's great that Konstantin is putting something in place but there's so much uncertainty with sponsorships that I have at the moment, with where those are going to go, how those dates are going to pan out. So, I like the idea, I love that Konstantin is supporting us but I don't know how far in advance what my schedule is going to be like or what it's going to be like or how the companies I'm involved with at the moment what they're going to need from me within those months. So, I like the idea, of course. I mean I would love to compete in ISL, it was great last year but I can't say 100% I'm doing this because there's so many uncertainties right now for everybody but I mean I like the idea of being together with everybody again, racing again and it would be pretty cool to have it in the same spot like that."

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - JULY 27, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

10. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DRESSEL COMPETING IN THE MEN'S 100-METRE BUTTERFLY FINAL AT THE WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - JULY 26, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

11. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF DRESSEL COMPETING IN THE MEN'S 100-METRE BUTTERFLY HEATS AT THE WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - JULY 27, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

12. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF DRESSEL JUST AFTER WINNING THE MEN'S 50-METRE FREESTYLE FINAL AT THE WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

13. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DRESSEL POSING WITH THE MEN'S 50-METRE FREESTYLE GOLD MEDAL

TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - DECEMBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

14. VARIOUS OF OLYMPIC RINGS OUTSIDE NATIONAL STADIUM

TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - NOVEMBER 21, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

15. VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF AQUATICS CENTRE, WHICH WILL HOST SWIMMING AND DIVING DURING OLYMPICS

16. VARIOUS INTERIORS OF AQUATICS CENTRE

STORY: Caeleb Dressel's world, like billions of others around the world, has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Olympic and world swimming champion was preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Games until last week but now that that's been postponed until next year, the 23-year-old has a very clear diary.

Dressel, a 13-times world champion, now has to drive 45 minutes to the nearest swimming pool that's open in order to train every day in Florida while adhering to the state rules on social distancing. When he's not training, he's spending a lot of time with his two roommates and dog instead of going to the beach and downtown.

And if the levels of social restrictions are increased, Dressel told Reuters on Friday (April 3), that he would train in his living room if he had to in order to stay fit for when normality resumes and he can focus on his aim of adding to his one Olympic gold medal he claimed at the Rio 2016 Games.

The Tokyo Games, originally scheduled to start in July this year, have been postponed to July 23-Aug 8, 2021 due to the pandemic.

There is so much uncertainty in most athletes' lives at the moment which is why Dressel proclaimed Friday's news that the professional International Swimming League (ISL) will fund its contracted athletes with monthly payments from September through to next year's rescheduled Tokyo Olympics as "massive".

The ISL also plans to get all its 320 swimmers, which Dressel is one of, together for a five-week special event of training and competition, possibly filmed behind closed doors and with Australia the likely location, from Oct 14 to Nov. 17 subject to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dressel said the 'Solidarity Program' would provide peace of mind at a time of uncertainty, with some countries in lockdown as they battle the new coronavirus.

Dressel, who competed in the inaugural ISL season, liked the idea of doing it again but stopped short of committing to a return to the planned five-week event, due in part to uncertainty with his existing sponsorships.

The ISL launched last year as a fast-paced competition with 10 teams from Europe and North America featuring an array of world and Olympic champions and bankrolled by Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin.

The contracted swimmers will each get a guaranteed $1,500 a month from Sept. 1 to July 1 with $11 million set aside to cover wages, bonuses, ambassador payments and prize money in a condensed season.

The total cost of paying for everything could amount to $20 million dollars, although that could be reduced by television deals and sponsorship and depends on the planned five-week 'radical swimming event' going ahead.

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