The Phelps Edge?

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.

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Don’t Get Cocky Kid!

So, I have been watching the Olympics pretty much non-stop for the past several days and I can’t help but continue to notice a trend. Michael Phelps… thats pretty much it. Yeah, we won other metals but whatever Michael Phelps won another gold! Yeah!!! I have literally gotten to the point where I change the channel when the news team starts talking about him. Am I wrong for doing this? For being so damned bored of hearing Michael Phelps this, Michael Phelps that… And the sad thing, I think it may be a bit too much. I am happy he won so many golds in his Olympic career and I think he is an incredible swimmer but in truth, I feel horrible for his teammates – all the other Olympic atheletes out there.

Case in point – the 4 x 100 Freestyle Relay, did we hear how the first African American swimmer received a gold medal? No. Did we hear anymore about how amazing the guy who swam the last leg did? No, you hear how nice Phelps was to the French team. See, I can’t even remember anyone else’s name because every event in swimming has Phelps name attached to it. They will talk about any other swimmer for 30 seconds and then they start talking about Phelps.

He is a great, amazing athelete but he isn’t the only US Olympian out there. I want to hear about other atheletes some more, I want to hear more about the South Korean swimmer who won the first swimming medal ever for South Korea. Yeah, I know its not the US but frak! They had a little broadcast about Phelps winning gold earlier that evening and never even showed the medal ceremony for that event – and the US got the silver in it. Or bronze. I can’t remember. Or the US softball team or the 2nd women’s beach volleyball team… you know the ones who have lost some games in the past few years.

But here is the thing I am most worried about – this is going to put more stress on Phelps. The guy can’t even focus on his swimming. He wins a medal, gets out of the water, does the medal ceremony, does an interview and then gets about 10 – 20 minutes to warm up for the next event. Thankfully last night he they realized he may need more time to get ready and they didn’t bombard him with questions. Unfortunatly, you can see him tiring in the later events. Not being able to go as fast or swim as well as he normally does.

And now that he has beat the lifetime olympic gold medal record, he is focusing on breaking Mark Spints single Olympic gold medal record. As he does this, I have some words of wisdom for him from Han Solo, “Great Kid! Don’t Get Cocky!” Because cockiness is the Olympians kryptonite… just ask the French dudes you beat the other night.