U.S. swimmer Caeleb Dressel broke retired Olympic competitor Michael Phelps’ world record in the 100-meter butterfly Friday at the world swimming championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
Dressel, 22, won the competition in 49.50 seconds, beating Phelps by a mere 0.32 seconds, according to USA Today. The 34-year-old Phelps set the previous world record at the 2009 world meet in Rome.
On Instagram, Phelps posted a congratulatory message to Dressel, praising the swimmer for his performance.
“I appreciate you and what you’ve done for us,” Dressel wrote back.
Who is Dressel?
The Florida native first earned national attention in 2016, when he won an Olympic gold medal alongside Phelps in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay in Rio de Janeiro.
Dressel again earned praise when, in 2017, he tied with Phelps as the only other swimmer to win seven gold medals at the world championships. This year, he earned a record eight.
Sometimes when he competes, Dressel, a Christian, has a Scripture passage scrawled across his face, right under his goggles. One of his favorite passages is Isaiah 40:31, which reads, “But 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.”
He told Evangelical Focus in 2017 it was the inspiration behind the massive eagle tattoo he has on his left shoulder.
“It’s the reason I’m in the sport — not just to go fast times, but to inspire people and show them where I find my happiness with what God’s given me,” the athlete said.
Raised in a Christian home, Dressel went on to say, “Swimming is my life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. This is what I’m supposed to be doing, and God gave me the talent and I’m going to do that for him, myself and my family and all my friends.”
Dressel has used the writing on his face for other things, too. In 2016, he wrote “JCM” on his right cheek to show support for one of his teachers who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She’s just one of my inspirations,” he told reporters at the time. “She’s just on top of her stuff spiritually, she’s very inspirational for me. She’s just — she’s a fighter, you know. I look up to her and she gives me strength throughout the meet.”