As the 2012 London Olympics approach, the biggest question mark of many Americans is whether Michael Phelps can come anywhere close to repeating what he did in Beijing.
Monday marked day 1 of the 8-day grueling U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and others took the pool for the 400-meter individual medley finals. By just under one second, Lochte won the race:
1) Ryan Lochte 4:07:06
2) Michael Phelps 4:07:89
3) Tyler Clary 4:09:92
Although Phelps did not take home the top spot, he has many more opportunities to do so: 6 to be exact. With the help of PolicyMic contributor Sam Wollner, here is a breakdown of his chances in each of the events.
100m & 200m Butterfly: “These are his bread and butter events. He’s the greatest flyer of all time. His technique is unbelievable and his talent will carry him in these events even if he isn’t as fit as he was in 2008.”
If any event puts Phelps on the Olympic team, it will be these two. He won gold in both in Beijing, the 2009 World Championships, the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships, and the 2011 World Championships. He should be a shoe-in for these events.
200m Individual Medley: “Phelps will have a better chance at Lochte in this event as it is not as grueling as the 400IM. Lochte’s edge is that he’s in better shape than Phelps. Phelps is the better pure swimmer.”
He won the event in Beijing, but won the silver at the 2011 World Championship, losing to none other than Lochte. This should be an interesting race to watch.
100m & 200m Freestyle: “These are very strong events for Phelps and important to him because he wants to be included in the 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle relays in London for additional shots to medal. He is beatable in these events, but the U.S. field is not as strong as past years, so I would bet he will put up times [good enough to be] a member of the 4 swimmer squad that reps the US in the finals of both relays.”
He won the 200m freestyle in Beijing, but lost it both in 2009 and 2011, the latter to Lochte. Once again, this should be a good matchup with Lochte, assuming he does not opt out of one and/or both to save energy.
200m Backstroke: “In the past, he has been very strong in this event…I suspect it was included in the preliminary repertoire of entries in case something went terribly wrong (disqualification, bad race, etc.)…I would guess that he will end up scratching it.”
This is Lochte’s event, so I would not be surprised either if he pulls himself out.
Below is information on where and when to watch Phelps, along with Lochte and others, swim for a spot on the U.S. National Team:
Online: NBCOlympics.com for live streaming
(Coverage of early heats is available on NBC Sports Sports Network beginning anywhere from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. depending on the day)
Tuesday, June 26 ~ 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Men’s 200m Freestyle – Semifinals
Wednesday, June 27 ~ 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Men’s 200m Freestyle – Finals
Men’s 200m Butterfly – Semifinals
Thursday, June 28 ~ 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Men’s 100m Freestyle – Semifinals
Men’s 200m Butterfly – Finals
Friday, June 29 ~ 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Men’s 100m Freestyle – Finals
Men’s 200m Individual Medley – Semifinals
Men’s 200m Backstroke – Semifinals
Saturday, June 30 ~ 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Men’s 200m Individual Medley – Finals
Men’s 100m Butterfly – Semifinals
Men’s 200m Backstroke - Finals
Sunday, July 1 ~ 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Men’s 100m Butterfly – Finals