Phelps will throttle back in London

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 3, 2012 - 12:16 AM

Eight-time gold medalist in Beijing will "limit" his events in London to seven, skipping the 200 free to get some rest.

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1st Day of competition - U.S. Olympic swimming trials. (IN THIS PHOTO) Swimming superstar Michael Phelps looks up at the clock after his preliminary swim in the Men's 400 Individual Medley. Phelps finnished 2nd with a time of 4:14.72 behind Ryan Lochte who had a time of 4:10.66. Phelps and Lochte will go head to head in the finals tonight.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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OMAHA -- Bob Bowman made it official Monday morning. Michael Phelps had a great run with the number eight, but he won't be chasing it again in London.

On the final day of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Bowman said Phelps will not compete in the 200-meter freestyle at the London Games. He will swim all of the other events in which he qualified last week: the 200 and 400 individual medleys and the 100 and 200 butterflies, plus all three relays.

"We won't hear the number eight again,'' said Bowman, who coached Phelps to a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "Once was more than enough. Trust me.''

Instead, seven will be the new eight in the London pool. Missy Franklin intends to compete in all seven events in which she qualified during a stellar performance at the trials, which would be an historic feat for an American woman. Phelps still can make history too; with three medals in his seven events, he would reach 19 for his career, the most in Olympic history.

As the trials ended Monday evening at CenturyLink Center, Jessica Hardy and Kara Lynn Joyce made the team in the women's 50 free, ending Dara Torres' quest to become a six-time Olympian.

Flexing their muscles

With the roster complete, Olympic coaches Teri McKeever and Gregg Troy said the U.S. team is in excellent position to continue its run atop the medals table. The United States has led the swimming medal count in the past five Olympics, winning 158 in that span -- twice as many as the countries that finished second.

The Olympic meet begins in just 26 days. Both coaches said the rigors of the trials honed a group of athletes rich in talent who are well-rehearsed in quickly reaching a new peak. For the past eight days, they have been flexing their muscles in front of the rest of the world, giving a hint of the very hot hand they hold.

"There's a lot of good swimmers out there,'' said Troy, the U.S. men's coach. "If we take anything lightly, it would be a mistake. But we know where we're at. Our athletes are in a good spot, and I think we're going to respond really well.

"After eight days racing in this environment, we have better athletes now than we had 10 days ago. There's nothing that sharpens a skill like competition.''

Looking for some rest

Bowman, Phelps' longtime coach, wanted to make sure his swimmer retained his edge. They had spoken earlier about dropping an event from their Olympic program. Phelps turned 27 last Saturday, and he has not trained as vigorously for the past four years as he did in the four years leading to the Beijing Games.

They considered axing the 200 free, which Phelps won at the trials, or the 400 IM, in which he finished second to Ryan Lochte -- and which he vowed he would never swim again after Beijing. They settled on the 200 free because its preliminaries and semifinals are the same day as the 400 free relay. Skipping it, Bowman said, will allow Phelps to focus only on the relay that day and get a bit of rest for later swims.

Bowman was pleased to see Phelps win four events at the trials. Still, he said, Phelps' times are not yet good enough to win gold in London, and it was important to have him as fresh as possible for the relays.

"It would be illogical to expect him to do that [eight-event] program on a lesser preparation,'' Bowman said. "Something had to give. It helps him out in the middle of the program, which I think will really help at the end.''

Bowman said no swimmer should be expected to take on eight Olympic events twice.

Franklin said it was her "biggest dream'' to qualify for seven, in her first trip to the Olympics. She will swim the 100 and 200 freestyles, the 100 and 200 backstrokes and three relays.

Though she is just 17, much was expected of Franklin at the trials, and she delivered without a hitch. She and coach Todd Schmitz rehearsed their plan for navigating seven events, and McKeever is confident Franklin can handle the workload in London.

"She's proven she can handle the highest pressure with her performance here,'' Mc-Keever said. "She's 17 years old, but she handled this meet like a seasoned professional. She's going to be able to do it.''

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