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Seven-time gold medalist swimmer Caeleb Dressel talks pressures of the Paris Olympics spotlight in and out of the pool

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(NEW YORK) — Seven-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Caeleb Dressel has punched his ticket to the Paris Games this summer.

“It’ll be a good one. Number three. This is crazy,” Dressel told ABC News after touching first in the men’s 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials last weekend.

The 27-year-old opened up about the pressures of being in the spotlight and living up to expectations both in and out of the pool.

“I can train all day long. You can put me in some some tough practices. I will make it out of the practice. I love it,” he said. “I’m not designed for media and lights and cameras, and the opinions of others. I worry too much about what other people think, to be quite honest.”

As one of the most decorated swimmers in the world, even receiving comparisons to Michael Phelps heading into the Tokyo Games, Dressel has an influx of eyes on him again this year — from campaigns and commercials to the competition itself.

Dressel said he wrestles with living up to the legends he competed against when he made his Olympic debut in 2016.

“I remember I had imposter syndrome a little bit from my first Games. Here I am as a 19-year-old, [thinking], ‘Do I really deserve to be here?"” he recalled. “There is a little taste of that because you just, you know, the depth of USA swimming. But if you can make it through the trials, you 100% deserve to be on the team.”

The Team USA veteran will step up to help newcomers in the same way teammates Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian and Ryan Lochte helped him.

“Before you know it, you’re just thrown into the leadership role. And quite honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing,” he admitted. “It’s some — quite literally — some very giant shoes to fill here.”

“But I’m trying to do my part and if that just means answering some questions or just showing them like this is tough — I still think it’s tough, I’m not a robot. This is hard stuff,” he continued. “The week back sucks leading up to the Games, the media, the attention — it’s tough.”

And this year, as he hopes to pick up more gold medals, there will be a newcomer in the stands on his side — his 4-month-old son August.

“He’s not gonna remember any of this, but that’s not the point,” Dressel said. “It’ll be exciting once he gets to travel to Europe at 4 months old — it’s just hilarious, honestly — watching him knowing that he’s going to be able to watch me compete, and just having him in the stands will mean a whole lot.”

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