Phelps set to make big splash at Olympic trials

Rodgers Forge resident in 6 events in Long Beach

Swimming

July 02, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Michael Phelps' bid at Olympic history will begin with six individual events at the U.S. Olympic swim trials.

With no relays on the program, an ambitious swimmer can take chances at that high-stakes meet, which runs from Monday to July 14 in Long Beach, Calif.

The top two finishers in each event will earn a spot on the American team that goes to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, where Phelps could become the first American to try five individual events in the Olympics.

Phelps figures to race 17 times in seven days in Long Beach. In order, he will swim the 400-meter individual medley, 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 200 backstroke, 200 IM and 100 butterfly.

A Rodgers Forge resident and member of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC), Phelps is the world-record holder in the 400 IM, 200 butterfly and 200 IM; the American record-holder in the 200 freestyle; and No. 2 all time in the 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

The July 12 evening session includes the finals of the 200 backstroke and 200 IM, then the semifinals of the 100 butterfly. Phelps will chase world-record holders Aaron Peirsol in the 200 backstroke and Ian Crocker in the 100 butterfly.

Doesn't that make for a busy day?

"It could be," NBAC coach Bob Bowman said.

Phelps could still scratch from an event.

"We're going to keep that option," Bowman said.

After Phelps made history at the 2003 world championships and U.S. Summer Nationals, he and Bowman decided those six events would be Plan A for the trials.

They had come under criticism for not disclosing their intentions, which were made public Wednesday. As Phelps celebrated his 19th birthday, USA Swimming posted the trials "psych sheet," which lists official entries, on its Web site.

"I don't think we ever intended to mislead people," Bowman said. "I didn't want to commit to a program and make changes, then have to explain that. We weren't doing that to play head games."

Phelps met the qualifying standard in 11 events, and the most versatile swimmer will pass on the 400 freestyle. He holds the American record, but it falls on the same day as the most taxing event in his program, the 400 IM.

"We had some difficult decisions to make," Bowman said, "but when you compare the 400 free to the 400 IM, you're not going to compromise the world-record event."

Katie Hoff, a 15-year-old from the NBAC's Harford satellite team, has the second-fastest seed time in the 400 IM, behind only Maggie Bowen's performance in 2001. Hoff is the fifth seed in the 200 IM, although only one American has gone faster this year.

Phelps at trials

Michael Phelps entered six events at the U.S. Olympic swim trials. His daily schedule follows.

Wednesday-Morning: 400 IM preliminaries. Evening: 400 IM final.

Thursday-Morning: 200 freestyle preliminaries. Evening: 200 freestyle semifinals.

Next Friday-Morning: 200 butterfly preliminaries. Evening: 200 freestyle final; 200 butterfly semifinals.

July 10-Evening: 200 butterfly final.

July 11-Morning: 200 backstroke preliminaries; 200 IM preliminaries. Evening: 200 backstroke semifinals; 200 IM semifinals.

July 12-Morning: 100 butterfly preliminaries. Evening: 200 backstroke final; 200 IM final; 100 butterfly semifinal.

July 13-Evening: 100 butterfly final.

Olympic swim trials

Who: 650 of America's best swimmers

What: Qualifying for the 2004 Olympics. The first two in each of 13 events earn berths in Athens, Greece.

When, where: July 7-14, Long Beach (Calif.) Swim Center

TV: NBC (chs. 11, 4). Next Friday, 8 p.m.; July 11, 8 p.m.; July 18, 1 p.m. (tape).

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