Phelps leads power-packed US swim team for London
OMAHA, Nebraska - Reuters
Michael Phelps prepares to swim the men's 10om butterfly final during the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska, July 1, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff HaynesThe United States have picked a powerful team of 47 swimmers, overflowing with talent and experience, for the London Olympics after the national trials ended on July 2.
The squad was made up of 23 men and 24 women, and led, once again, by the mercurial Phelps, who qualified for his fourth Olympics.
Phelps qualified for five individual events which, with the addition of the three relays, would have seen him compete in the same events he won on Beijing four years ago.
But he dropped the 200 meters freestyle from his programme to save his energy for the relays, where the Americans face a huge challenge defending the 4x100m freestyle.
“The relays are always serious,” head coach of the men’s team Gregg Troy told reporters.
“That’s a tough program Michael swims. It’s really tough. He’s a little bit older, and those older guys don’t recover quite as quickly.”
Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman agreed that it was the right decision.
“I looked at all of the events and it really just came down to the program,” Bowman told reporters. “It came down to the 400 IM (individual medley) or the 200 free had to go. I think he’d be good in the in either one but it just made sense to drop the 200 free.”
By dropping the 200m free, Phelps will now swim seven events; the 100 and 200 butterfly, the 200 and 400 individual medleys and three relays, and has good chances in all of them and adding to his Olympic stockpile.
He already holds the record for the most gold medals at a single Olympics (eight) and overall (14) and needs just three more medals of any color in London to surpass the overall mark of 18 held by former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
“As Michael said all along, it wasn’t going to be eight. He’s said that for the last four years,” Bowman said.“It makes sense. No-one should be expected to do that twice. Once was enough.”
Phelps has struggled for motivation after his amazing performance in Beijing and only got back into serious training 18 months ago.
He had hinted that he would swim a reduced programme in London, which will be his fourth and final Olympic appearance, but it was only after he finished all his events at the trials that the decision to drop the 200m was made.
Rising star: Franklin
Colorado teenager Missy Franklin also qualified for seven events, including the relays. She is the first American female swimmer to do so and has already emerged as the new star of the women’s team heading to her first Olympics.
“I think she’s proven that she can handle the highest pressure with her performance here over the last week,” women’s head coach Teri McKeever said. “She’s 17-years-old, but she handled this meet like a seasoned professional.”
“We embrace that. It’s good for the sport and it’s good for the athletes,” Troy added.
“But by the same token, those same fans, they need to understand there’s some other guys in the world who are really good. I don’t believe that Michael or Ryan have carte blanche that it’s just the two of them.”
The oldest member of the team was 36-year-old Jason Lezak, who qualified as a reserve in the 4x100m freestyte relay. The youngest was 15-year old Katie Ledecky, the winner of the 800m freestyle.
Troy said he was expecting all the swimmers would go faster in London. “If we take anything lightly we’re making mistakes. Our athletes are in a good spot,” he said.”