Dressel in rare company with five gold

American Caeleb Dressel has finished with five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics pool.
American Caeleb Dressel has finished with five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics pool.

Caeleb Dressel may have left the Tokyo Olympic pool with five gold but the American superstar has described his Games experience as "terrifying".

Dressel added two more gold to his tally on Sunday's swimming finale, dominating the men's 50m freestyle to win by nearly half a second before chiming into the US' world record breaking men's 4x100m medley relay team victory.

Overall he won all three of his individual events - the men's 100m butterfly and the 50m-100m freestyle double - along with two relay golds despite a brutal competition schedule that included two days of juggling medal ceremonies with back-to-back races.

The 24-year-old's career Olympic gold tally now stands at seven.

But Dressel said the pressure to win on sport's biggest stage was far greater than he had expected.

"It's a different type of pressure, I'm completely aware of that now and I'll stop lying to myself," said Dressel, who has 13 world titles.

"You have to be so perfect in that moment, especially we had an extra year, so a five-year build-up, a 24-year build-up.

"There's so much pressure. In one moment, your whole life boils down to a moment that could take 20 or 40 seconds.

"How crazy is that? For an event that happens every four years.

"I wouldn't ever tell myself this during the meet but after looking back, it's terrifying."

Dressel is being compared to American greats Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz after he joined an elite club of swimmers who have won at least five gold at one Games.

Phelps did it three times, highlighted by his record eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Games.

There's also Spitz (seven golds in 1972), East German Kristin Otto (six golds in 1988) and Matt Biondi (five golds, also in '88).

But Dressel said he wanted to make his own mark.

"The United States has been dominant for so many years, for me to have my memorable stamp on the sport of course it's special," said Dressel.

"My goal is not to be Michael, my goal is not to be Mark.

"I feel like I've already exceeded my expectations here, I'm really happy with what I did and had a really fun time being here and know I can be better."

Australian Associated Press