OMAHA — Michael Phelps dropped the 200-meter freestyle from his Olympic program, giving him only seven events in London, not eight, his longtime coach Bob Bowman announced this morning from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Phelps, who won eight golds at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, will contest the 100 and 200 butterfly, the 200 and 400 individual medleys, and three relay events.
“We won’t hear the number ‘eight’ again after this press conference,” Bowman said. “I felt like the program was too big.”
Bowman said he and Phelps discussed the possibility early last week and made the decision late Sunday after his final race here in the 100 butterfly. The program tweak will allow Phelps to direct more energy to the relays – namely, the 4x100 freestyle relay that takes place on the second day of the meet along with the 200 freestyle semifinals.
Ricky Berens, who finished third in the 200 freestyle final here, will replace Phelps in the Olympic event.
Though Phelps qualified to swim in five individual Olympic events here, he lacks the training foundation leading into the London Games that he had before the Beijing Summer Games, Bowman said.
His training was “so much different than Beijing,” he said. “It would be illogical to expect him to do that program on lesser preparation…. It makes sense. No one should be expected to do that two times. Once is more than enough.”
Bowman said he and Phelps considered dropping the 400 individual medley instead, but decided cutting the 200 free represented a better program decision. The 400 medley occurs on the first day of the Games and does not conflict with any other events.
Phelps, Bowman said, accepted Bowman’s recommendation without argument or disappointment. In fact, Bowman noted, the two spent very little time discussing it Sunday night; Phelps, presented the information earlier, simply assented.
“He said, ‘Whatever you think,’” Bowman said.
Phelps acknowledged Sunday night that he hadn’t felt as energetic over the last nine days as during the trials in 2008. Throughout this meet, Phelps said he knew he would need faster times at the London Games to contend for gold medals there.
“He will be better in everything,” Bowman said.