When I heard Phelps state he was going to swim the 400 IM again, I was disappointed. He stated before he wasn’t going to swim it because he was going out on top as a constant winner in this event. In my opinion, he also blocked another person from having the chance at the Olympics… someone who hasn’t had the honor yet. I do not know what was in Phelps head this morning for the qualifying round. We saw him barely make it into the finals for his event… He swam 2 seconds slower than his 1st world record in this event in 2002. In the next six years, he bettered himself 8 times. This was not the swimmer we saw in the pool this morning. Maybe he should have stayed out of this race as he had planned 4 years ago… because he is now going out for the first time as a possible non-winner, no matter what the new reporters say.
In his interview after the Qualifying round, he stated he imagined himself being in the 4th or 5th position for lanes… instead he is in the worst position. If you have swam before, you know that you do not ever want to be on the outside. The further out you are the least likely you are going to be in a position to medal. If you are in lanes 1 or 8, yeah it will be nice to just say you were there. It’s not impossible but very, very difficult. The news reporters after the qualifying round did state they felt he could still medal in the event, I think they are being very hopeful. Every single swimmer Phelps will go against this summer has had one goal in their head for the past 4 years – to beat Michael Phelps. Okay, maybe not just beat him but to crush him. After Beijing, while Phelps was busy partying and getting high in Las Vegas, swimmers like Lochte were back in the water focusing their minds to take him out of the running.
Four years ago I wrote a blog about Phelps saying, “Don’t Get Cocky Kid” and I think he did after the last Olympics. He was showered with free gifts, magazine covers, endorsements, free time in Vegas, etc. I am not saying that he did not try once he realized that Lochte was passing him in the pool. Yes, he did up his game and his training a few years ago but he does not seem focused anymore like he has for the past few Olympics. He should have stayed out of the 400IM and focused on his other events. He is still an amazing swimmer to watch but I think he still is getting a ton of pressure to be on top all the time. You could see it in his face after his qualifying round… he just didn’t want to talk to anyone. He knows how bad he really did. He knows how much pressure will be on him tonight because he is in a lane he probably hasn’t been in since he first got into a pool – if ever. I would love to see him go out on top but I think he may not, because he has a huge target on his back and ever other swimmer out there is aiming for him.
Is the edge still there? For his sake, I hope so but I don’t think we will see the same Phelps from the past. Lochte has stepped up and taken the spot as the top American swimmer this year. It is never fun to see a winner start to fall… I just hope he can come back in some of his stronger events. I also hope the reporters will give him some breathing room because from the look on his face, I think he wants to swim and get reading instead of sitting across someone with a microphone. I know I would.