Team USA swimmer Caeleb Dressel gives gold medal to teammate in stands

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Caeleb Dressel of Team United States tosses his gold medal to Brooks Curry of Team United States after winning the Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Caeleb Dressel did something you don’t often see after winning a gold medal in the men’s 4X100m freestyle relay – he tossed it into the stands … to teammate Brooks Curry.

Dressel, who has been likened to Michael Phelps and called “The Swimming Machine” by Sports Illustrated, vaulted Team USA to an early lead that led to a sizable victory over second place Italy Monday.

So why did he call down his 20-year-old teammate and flip him his first gold medal?

Curry swam in Dressel’s place during the preliminary heats and helped Team USA qualify – and also allowed Dressel to get some rest. While Curry will eventually receive his own medal, swimmers in the preliminaries weren’t included in the medal ceremony, so Dressel found a thoughtful way to bring the spotlight to his teammate.

And when it comes to rest, sleep hasn’t been plentiful in Tokyo for Team USA because of the “flipped,” broadcast-friendly schedule that has preliminary heats at night and finals in the morning, according to Yahoo Sports.

“This is not something that we’re used to,” said Chase Kalisz, who claimed the United States’ first gold medal by winning the men’s 400m individual medley. “I’ve done it one time in my life. … If you do everything right, as far as nutrition, getting massages on the table, getting recovery in, and eat, that leaves you with six hours of sleep, max.”

With Curry in his place for the preliminaries, Dressel was able to relax the night before the final.

“I had the easiest job last night out of everyone here. I got to watch it on TV,” the 24-year-old Floridian said during a post-race interview. “So I felt like [Brooks] deserved that a little more than me.”

As of this writing Monday, Team USA Swimming has won eight Olympic medals – two gold, three silver and three bronze.