Showdown set for Michael Phelps, Tyler Clary in 200-meter butterfly

July 30, 2012|By Jean Marbella | The Baltimore Sun

LONDON — Another day, another shot at a bit of redemption. But this time it may be for Tyler Clary, the swimmer whose public dissing of teammate Michael Phelpscaused a verbal firestorm as the two headed to the Games.

Clary was widely viewed as the bad guy after telling his hometown newspaper three weeks ago that Phelps, poised to become perhaps the most decorated Olympian of all time, didn't work hard and was asking to get beaten. And Clary, little-known and headed to his first Olympics compared to Phelps' fourth, said "it would be complete satisfaction" when he did the beating.

Monday morning, in a preliminary heat for the 200-meter butterfly, Clary did beat Phelps. The two go into Monday night's semifinal with Clary seeded second and Phelps fifth.

After the heat, though, neither were interested in re-opening any rift that the public takedown might have caused.

"The day after it happened I sat down with him in his room, we spoke about it and put it to rest. He understood," Clary said after his 1:54.96 finish, .74 of a second ahead of Phelps swimming a couple lanes away. "The next day I stopped the whole men's team and told them specifically, what came out is not how I feel about Michael or anyone, and I apologize for any distraction I may have caused."

Phelps indicated he might have been a bit sleep-deprived coming into the heat after winning silver Sunday night as part of the 400-meter freestyle relay team. The race, a heartbreaker in which the U.S. swimmers were ahead in every leg until the French anchor steadily made up ground and pushed ahead of Ryan Lochte.

He said, though, that he didn't think that having lost his first race, the 400-meter individual medley on Saturday night, sapped his confidence going forward.

"I don't think it had anything to do with confidence," Phelps said. "I felt ready to swim. Once I got in the race, it didn't happen."

Phelps' training partner at the North Baltimore Aquatic Center, Allison Schmitt, added another impressive swim Monday morning, coming in second in the preliminary heads for the 200-meter freestyle. Schmitt, who won silver Sunday night in the 400-meter free and bronze Saturday as part of the 400-meter free relay, will swim Monday night's semifinal as the second seed with 17-year-old teammate Missy Franklin the  third seed.Italy's Frederica Pellegrini, the gold medalist in the 200 free the past two Games, is seeded first.

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