There are still firsts left for Michael Phelps in his career. Today, for the first time in his career, he took the top seed in the 200m butterfly prelims at an Olympic Trials.
Phelps was a 1:56.68 to top the charts this morning, the second fastest he’s ever been in the heats of the 200m butterfly at trials.
|Olympic Trials||Prelims Time||Prelims Place||Semifinal Time||Semifinal Place||Final Time||Final Place|
Phelps has been the king of the 200m butterfly since he set the world record in the event in 2001 at the world championship trials in Austin, Texas.
His inauguration into the international swimming scene occurred at the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 200m butterfly where he ended up finishing second to Tom Malchow and qualifying for his second Olympic team.
Since then, Phelps has contested this event at every Olympic Trials, and has never lost since his second place finish in 2000.
Over the years, the times have gotten faster, albeit his 2012 Olympic Trials results were slower than his 2008 results.
A few interesting trends show up in the race data from Phelps’ 200m butterfly races at trials. Phelps has never gone into the semifinals as the number one seed until today. In both 2000 and 2004, he went in as the second fastest swimmer. In 2008 and 2012, he was third after the heats.
In 2000, thats very much indicative of him being the underdog. In 2004, 2008, and 2012, Phelps had such a heavy program at trials that he likely cruised the prelims since he was in such a good position to move forward to the semifinals and didn’t need to wear himself out.
This time around it infers that Phelps is either in amazing shape as he’s led the world to believe in his run-up to the trials, or he stepped on the gas hard this morning. Either way, he looked great, only tightening up slightly in the last 20-meters.
Another interesting correlation between Phelps trials results and his Olympic results takes place. Phelps has only won gold at the games when he’s taken the top seed after the semifinals. Although the relationship between these two results is a stretch at best, it’s an interesting trend.
The result could refer to how Phelps is feeling heading into the meet. In 2000, Phelps was largely the underdog which once again explains why defending Olympic silver medallist Malchow would be faster in prelims, semifinals, and finals.
Between 2004 and 2008, he was arguably in the best shape of his career. That would mean that he could cruise through the semifinals with an easy swim, which still topped the field. In 2012, it’s now known that he wasn’t putting his all into his training, which could explain how his “cruise” speed couldn’t top the field.
Now, with the hard work he’s claimed to put in, Phelps will once again race the semifinals of the 200m butterfly finals. If Phelps is first tonight, and ultimately makes the team, we’ll be able to see if the correlation between first in semifinals at trials and gold at the games stays true.