Michael Phelps has scratched the 200 free from his Olympic schedule, his coach Bob Bowman reported via Twitter today.
“MichaelPhelps will be removing the individual 200 freestyle from his Olympic program. This will give him a full slate of 7 events.”
The move is a stunning one, after he won the individual men’s 200 freestyle event at the Olympic Trials that wrap up today in Omaha. His final time of 1:45.77, just bettering Ryan Lochte, was probably his most disappointing of the week, where he not only missed a World leader, he didn’t even go a season-best time.
Bowman explained the decision further that “This change will allow him to focus more energy on relays for Team USA.”
That means Ricky Berens is the new entry in the race for Team USA when they travel to London. For Berens, a self-described “relay-swimmer,” that would be his third swim and only his first individual race in two Olympic appearances. Berens is unlikely to medal, while Phelps would’ve been a strong favorite to end up on the podium somewhere.
With this move, Lochte and Frenchman Yannick Agnel will be the two favorites in the men’s 200 free; Lochte is the defending World Champion, and Agnel has looked spectacular this morning after switching his focus from the 400 free to the shorter 100-200 schedule this season.
Based on Bob Bowman’s assertion that Phelps will still swim 7 events, we can expect that means that he’s been assured a place on the 400 free relay (though he didn’t swim the 100 free individually) and the 800 free relay, even with the scratch.
This was probably the shakiest of Phelps’ potential 5 individual medals going into the Olympics, and should really strengthen his run to hold off Lochte in the 200 IM and possibly catch his rival in the 400 IM.
We’ve heard a common question about whether or not this bumps Davis Tarwater onto the team after he finished 7th (usually 6 are taken). Shortly after Phelps’ announcement, it was revealed that Tarwater would be added to the team.