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Jack Freifelder | NCAA.com | August 8, 2016

Current NCAA student-athletes help bring home gold

  Members of the Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay final listen to the US national anthem with their gold medals. (From left: Nathan Adrian, Ryan Held, Michael Phelps and Caeleb Dressel)

For a pair of first-time Olympians, winning a gold medal alongside Michael Phelps is a heck of an introduction on the national stage.

But that’s just what Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held did on Sunday night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where the US Men’s Swimming Team took gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay final.

Dressel and Held are both entering their junior year at Florida and NC State, respectively, and the duo has now captured the first medal of their Olympics careers. Not to mention the first medals of the 2016 Olympics for their schools.

MORE: NCAA student-athletes at the 2016 Olympics by school | NCAA medal tracker

“I’ve heard the national anthem thousands of times before, but there was something different about this one,” Held said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer“I just couldn’t hold back the tears.”

Dressel led off for the American squad in the final race with a split of 48.10. Phelps (47.12), Held (47.73) and Nathan Adrian (46.97) finished off the 4x100m freestyle relay final. The US team’s total time of 3:09.92 was good enough to ward off the second-place French and third-place Australian teams, avenging a loss to the French team in 2012.

Held, who was competing in the first international meet of his career, is the fourth swimmer in NC State’s history to help the US Men’s Swimming Team win the gold medal. Adrian, who attended California in his time as an undergraduate, now has five Olympic medals in his career.

Phelps, the elder statesman of the team, won his 19th Olympic gold in the process. He now has 23 medals in his Olympic career.

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