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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Reid Carlson

I never get tired of reading Phelps news, but what I want to know most regarding trials is what events Lochte will do. The 200 IM and 200 back seem like certainties, but what else?. 400 IM? 200 free? 100 fly? If Phelps gets on the 800 free relay by merit alone, I assume Lochte would too, so he wouldn’t need to swim the 200 at trials unless he hoped to contest it individually. Some combination of Lochte, Clary, and Kalisz is most likely to qualify in the 400 IM, and honestly I don’t know which of those three would be the one to get third if only the three of them were to square-off. Oh, this is going to… Read more »


200 free, 200 back, 200 IM seem to be his three best shots at individually qualifying (200 back will be tough with Murphy, Clary, and others but you can’t count Lochte out ever). He probably swims the 400 free relay at Rio as well, but it’s tough to say if he swims the 100 at trials or not (probably in prelims & semi like in 2012). He could easily swim the 100 fly as well but it’ll be really tough to make top 2 there, perhaps even making it out of semis given the talent in the US in fly nowadays.


They’re not necessarily suggesting he’ll get on because he’s Michael Phelps, Bowman just said he wouldn’t be targetting it individually, but that he might swim prelims (“do enough to show that he should be in the relays”) and then scratch. Honestly, I hope Lochte doesn’t go for the 200 back. That double is just too much for him. I honestly think he’d have gotten gold in the 200 IM in London if he hadn’t had the 200 back right before. My thought is Lochte’s trials lineup needs to be something like: 100 free for the relay spot 200 free mainly going for the relay, but with a good chance to make it individually and potential to medal. 200 IM —… Read more »

masters swimmer

Agreed. With Phelps going so fast in the 200IM, I think Lochte will have to focus on the 400IM as an individual event. He looked very strong in SCM 400IM at the Duel in the Pool. Also, the other individual events, especially backstroke are getting very crowded, so he will need the 400IM as an option for individual events.


Lochte will not swim the 400 IM at trials.

I bet he’ll be on the psych sheet and scratch it. He admittedly wasn’t training for it before the Duel, and scm and lcm are totally different animals.


Lochte will successfully defend his title in the 400im. That should be the main course. I predict 200im silver behind Phelps, 1-2 USA. Outside chance he clips Phelps maybe 10-20pct chance of that. Everything else is gravy.


I would LOVE to see Lochte swim the 400 I.M., 200 I.M., and the 4×200 Free and maybe enter into the individual 200 free, but I would rather see him try and keep his legs fresh for the medleys. The fact that he doubled in the 200 back/200 I.M. at the last Olympics is beyond insane. Speaking of insane, I hope Hagino can learn a thing or two from what happened to Lochte at the last Olympics with that double.. Anyhow I just think it would be great to see a Lochte/Phelps/Hagino duel like we saw in Shanghai with all guys under 1:55 in the 200 I.M.

Victor P

I smell 6 more gold medals for Phelps in Rio. They say he won’t swim the 200 free, but I think he’ll simply scratch the final and make sure to post a top time in the semis. He’ll be in all 3 relays plus the fly events and the 200 IM.


Victor P: I LOVE your optimism, but I don’t think the US men are going to win gold on the 4X100 FR relay (not that the other 2 relays will be a cakewalk either!) I hope you are right and I’m wrong!


James Bond once said “Never say never again”.

Reid Carlson

If the US had Phelps, Dressel, Adrian, and Grevers on it, I think they would be the team to beat. Brazil, Russia, and France are all still very dangerous. Mostly Brazil. I really liked Gold Medal Mel’s video about their 400 free relay. They’re young, they’re fast, and they’re the home team. I know the line-up I posted above leaves Lochte out; I guess, in my opinion, it would be between him and Grevers for that final spot. There typically seems to be at least one Olympic rookie in the finals of the 400 and 800 free relays, so that’s why I put Dressel in there. That, and he had an amazing summer in 2015 and showed that he can… Read more »


I have to disagree with the other 2 not being a cake walk if Kazan proved anything its that Team USA at 100% is much better than the rest of the world in the 200, guys like Weiss and Rooney could definitely split a 1:46 mid combine that with a 1:44 or 1:45 lead off from Lochte and they are pretty solid. As for the medley who can challenge the US? France doesn’t have the fly or the breast to compete with us. Brazil doesn’t have the backstroke to keep up with us or the fly. Britain will do good up until fly and free where we swamp them along with many other nations. We won the medley in Kazan… Read more »


You know, it looks like Michael has a legitimate shot to challenge his best times this summer. And if that’s the case, it’s not impossible that he’s going to be a 47-mid leg on the free relay. He could very well elevate our 4×100 to a level it hasn’t been to yet this Olympiad.


I’m kinda hoping Cseh nips him in either the 100 or 200 fly.I’d love to see him win one after being a bridesmaid to Lochte and Phelps for three Olympiads He’s in the shape and form of his life.


Unfortunately for Cseh, Phelps is also in arguably the best shape and form in his life. Le Clos is certainly up there, Schooling as well and even Shields or Conger are also threats. The story is still the same: butterflies will be incredible to watch.


Love that one . I think many Us swimmers will be in top form , Phelps and locate and Adrian and Grevers included .

About Loretta Race

Loretta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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