When it comes to 100 meter butterfly swims in season Michael Phelps will take a 51 mid, 51.9, a 51 anything…but he hates swimming 52 seconds. 51 in season is the Phelps-butterfly-sweetspot. If Phelps can drop a 51, he knows he’s in the 50 second range at the end-of-season taper meet.
I’ll never forget watching the test swim meet in Omaha before the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Phelps swam a 51+ 100 fly, and he looked calmly satisfied. That was one moment — in a long line of moments — where I realized how dialed-in Coach Bob Bowman was with Phelps’ preparation for Olympic competition.
I’m sticking by my prediction from earlier this year. I think sub 50.4 is a small goal for Phelps, edging out Ian Crocker’s world best textile suit time. I think Phelps would ultimately like to swim a personal best at 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha or the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. He’s not been shy about that, but going sub 49.8 in the 100m butterfly seems superhuman without the aid of rubberized floatation. I don’t know why 49.9 feels doable, only one tenth slower, but I think Phelps will crack the 50 second barrier in 100m fly, just missing his world mark.
What do you think? Times don’t matter at the Olympic Games. It’s about medals. Who is Phelps’ competition in Rio? Will Chad le Clos or Joseph Schooling edge Phelps in 100m fly? What swimmers could knock these stars off the podium?
This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.