Phelps will do eight events at world championships

Bowman said heavy load for him `certainly doable'

Swimming

April 06, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - Bob Bowman, the man who coaches Baltimore's Michael Phelps, didn't know what to expect from Phelps at the 2005 world championship trials, but he liked what he saw.

"We wanted to find out where his conditioning is and where he is is not a bad place," Bowman said. "I think he got better every day he was here and I can see places where he can get better almost immediately. He can improve the 100 [freestyle] right now by improving his start."

Bowman also wanted options going into the July World Championships. And he has them - eight of them. Though why he wanted them seemed lost last night. He said Phelps will swim everything he has qualified for - the 100, 200 and 400 freestyles, 100 butterfly, 200 IM, the 400 and 800 freestyle relays and the 400 medley relay.

This decision came after men's national coach Dave Salo said he emphasized to Bowman he wants the Montreal team to concentrate on the relays.

"Our goal is to capture the relays," Salo said. "We've hung our hats on the 800 and we need to get back the 400. We need to get back on top in those events. ... Relays are what meld our team together. You saw it last year with Michael giving up his spot to [Ian] Crocker because he knew Crocker was right for that situation. Michael might want to cut back one event."

But Phelps isn't a normal swimmer. He thrives on work. Bowman said there is no conflict between working Phelps hard and Salo's desire to win relays.

"We looked at the timeline and this is certainly doable," said Bowman. "The way the relays work, he won't have to do a double on those days. And he has several mornings off. There is plenty of time to rest up."

U.S. Swimming official Rowdy Gaines, a three-time 1984 Olympic medal winner, said after watching Phelps here there is no doubt in what direction he is going.

"It's the year after the Olympics. A number of top swimmers are taking a year off or having their training affected by post-Olympic activities," he said. "But Michael Phelps is Superman. His performances don't count. To see him do what he [did] here, he is in a whole different league. He's the LeBron James of the swimming pool right now. He's that dominant. No one can touch him."

But Bowman said Phelps, who has grown an inch and expects to grow more, must improve in every event to win in Montreal.

"Michael, like all great athletes, is ruled by his mental state," Bowman said. "With each swim he gets more confidence. But his times were not spectacular here. He won't be able to stay the same and win in Montreal. He has a chance to win them all - plenty of people will disagree with that - but he does if he improves."

Phelps will attempt to make that improvement through an amazingly busy schedule that includes classes at Michigan, a photo shoot, judging Miss USA in Baltimore, a New York book signing and visits to three Salisbury area schools as part of the community service work required by his probation from the charges that came from his November arrest on suspicion of driving while impaired.

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