Phelps In 200 Free At Trials? Bowman Says “Probably Not”

With Rio organizers having released the competitive sporting schedule in its entirety for the 2016 Olympic Games, we speculated what 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps’ might look like for his 5th Games appearance.

Now Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman, has confirmed the specific events in which the comeback king will be targeting at the U.S. Trials, which begin on June 26th in Omaha, Nebraska.

In speaking with USA Today, Bowman said that, although Phelps will be trying out some off-events during the Arena Pro Swim Series stops, “Phelps should do both the 100 and 200 butterflies and the 200 individual medley” at the U.S. Trials. But that schedule leaves out one of Phelps’ past gold-medal-winning events, the 200m freestyle.

Regarding the 200m freestyle, Bowman is quoted as stating “ probably not” when asked if the 18-time gold medalist would indeed target the race individually for the 2016 Olympic Games. However, Bowman said  “He’s probably going to be doing enough to show that he should be in the relays.”

Phelps certainly has successful Olympic experience in the 200m freestyle, having earned bronze in the event at the 2004 Games in Athens, followed by gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Although he qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the event for the 2012 London Games, Phelps decided to drop the event individually.

The 200m freestyle has been part of Phelps’ repertoire off and on since his comeback, with his best time since re-entering the world of competitive swimming being the 1:48.20 he clocked at the 2014 Santa Clara Grand Prix (now called Pro Swim Series). That same venue is where Phelps registered his best time of 2015, a 1:49.03, a mark well-off that year’s best time of 1:45.14 that Great Britain’s James Guy dropped for gold in 2015 FINA World Championships.

In terms of the two butterfly races and the 200 IM, Phelps proved last year he is still at the top of his game, ending the season on top of the world rankings in each of the events. While competing at the U.S. Nationals in San Antonio in August, Phelps scored a 200m butterfly time of 1:52.94, faster than the winning time at the World Championships.

Phelps then posted a 50.45 in the 100m distance of the same discipline, again a time that would’ve won the world title in Kazan. He continued his San Antonio and world domination by winning the 200 IM in a time of 1:54.75, over a full second ahead of Ryan Lochte’s world title-winning time in Kazan.

Phelps continued that momentum heading into 2016 by blasting wins in those same three events while competing at the U.S. Winter Nationals at the beginning of December.

In the same USA Today interview, Bowman attributes Phelps’ so-far-successful comeback at least partly to the change in environment. Phelps, along with other members of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, followed Bowman out to Tempe, Arizona once Bowman took on the head coaching job at Arizona State University.

Says Bowman of ‘the new’ Phelps, “He’s doing very well personally and as an athlete. He just purchased a house up here. He likes Phoenix and Scottsdale. He’s really grounded and he’s approached everything so well since he came back from his time away. He’s as fit as he’s been in a long time.”

“The timing was fortuitous for him because it let us have a clean slate, start over,” Bowman said. The new environment “was great,” Bowman said. “He’s just really in a different place now.”

As someone who knows the ins and outs of the world’s greatest Olympic swimmer ever, Bowman sends shivers through Phelps’ competition stating, “He’s better now than he’s been in many years.”

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8 years ago

Lochte 2016
200/400 IM
4×200 FR

8 years ago

Moshin, Lochte’s best chance of a gold medal is the 400im. Why should he stay away from it? You must have missed Duel in the Pool. Be smoked the field in the 400scm im. Granted it is not long course but come olympics Lochte will be like a pouncing tiger in that pool. Who else in the field has swam a 4:05 before?
I agree with you that Phelps should not swim the 4im and he clearly has no plans to. Has Lochte come out and said, “I am not swimming the 400im”? Clearly not. It should be the event he has the most confidence in. Not that his 200im is weak but this is not the Phelps from… Read more »

8 years ago

I’ve said it before, but I’d like to see Phelps do the 100 back at OT, even if just a prelims swim.
– It’s a low-risk event
– It would be fun
– Last chance to get a best time in an off event.
– The other event that day is 200 free.
– Would still be a lighter schedule than his games, presumably

His schedule would then be:
* = prelim/semi-final
Trials (Games)
— – 4x 100 FR
100 Bk* —
200 Fly* 200 Fly*
200 Fly 200 Fly + 4x 200 FR
– 100 fr?* —
200 IM * 200 IM*
100 Fly* +… Read more »

Caitlin Garrison
Reply to  floppy
8 years ago

Phelps got “smoked” in the 400im because he didn’t train for it. He and Bowman talk about this in the SI article and Phelps addresses it in the TV interview with Joe Buck.

8 years ago

I personally don’t want to see either Phelps or Lochte anywhere near the 400IM. Phelps particularly got smoked in London in that race and that should be that in terms of the 400IM. Lochte, well….if he want’s to avoid a repeat of London where he had already swim a lot of meters before the 4×100 free relay (assuming he’s on that this year), he should avoid it too. Besides, both have already got Olympic gold in it. I think Phelps’ trials will be:
100 fly
200 fly
100 free up to semis, where he puts a low 48
and I think at a meet close to the trials he’ll maybe go a 1:45 low… Read more »

8 years ago

Sorry, the previous post was in reply of Jman. Totally agree with Hank.

8 years ago

The problem, obviously, is the capacity of recovery after a race and the volume/yardage of training that a 31 year-old can manage: all these aspects are way lower than in the low 20s.

8 years ago

200free may be USA’s weakest event. Followed by 100free discounting Adrian.

Reply to  Hank
8 years ago

Luckily, it might be the weakest event on the men’s program. Even though they haven’t done anything miraculous lately, Lochte/Dwyer still have a shot at medals.

Reply to  LA88
8 years ago

and lets wait to see what Rooney will show off this year on the 200 free .

8 years ago

Lochte should drop the 2back and just focus on the IMs and relays. There is too much specialized talent there with Larkin, Grevers, Murphy, Irie, and others. He should go after a 2 free spot and if he finishes top 2 definitely swim it in Rio.

Phelps has nothing to gain and more to lose by overextending himself beyond 3 individual and 3 relay events total. Similar situation for Lochte but I bet Lochte goes after the 4IM and we see him in a lot of 200 stroke events at Grand Prixs in the meantime.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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