Monday, 2 July 2012

Michael Phelps Will Not Swim 200 Freestyle at the London Olympics

"It's all coming together nicely", Yannick Agnel has taken his first victim in the 200 freestyle and the race hasn't even started yet.

Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman have decided to drop the 200 free from their London schedule to allow Phelps to concentrate on the 4 x 100 freestyle relay.

The move comes as a surprise given how important the 200 free has been to Phelps over the years, and the strong chance Phelps had to medal. One of his greatest ever swims came at Worlds in 2006 when he broke Ian Thorpe's then world record with a stunning 1:43.86... a time that has not been touched since in a textile suit, at least not yet.

This decisions really shakes up both the 200 free individual and the 4 x 100 free relay events:

200 free

Yannick Agnel and Ryan Lochte become the clear favourites now, with Paul Biedermann, Park Tae Hwan and Sun Yang close behind. Phelps' withdrawal also offers an intriguing opportunity for Ricky Berens who now has his moment in the spotlight (for sporting reasons rather than suit malfunctions).

I can't help but think this news gives a real shot in the arm to the non-US challengers. If you had asked them who they would rather face between Phelps and Lochte, my money would have been on them saying Lochte. Even though Lochte has been better over the last few years, Phelps at his best is still 0.6 seconds faster than any of the current crop of freestylers have ever been before in textile. I would also suggest that the fear factor they had facing up to the American challenge has just been halved. Fear factor down = Belief level up.

Current Prediction - 1) Lochte 2) Agnel 3) Sun Yang

4 x 100 free relay

Phelps now has a completely clear second day in London with just the relay coming at the very end of the day (he may also be required to swim the prelims). This undoubtedly helps the US team's cause, but by how much?

Australia will still go in as overwhelming favourites in the relay. How much faster will this extra rest make Phelps? Assuming he leads off, could we see him get down to the 47.5-47.7 range? He swam 48.0 to lead off in Shanghai and I can see him improving on that time, but not to the extent that could a) challenge Magnussen, or b) make up the deficit to Australia. Looking at the race with heavily tinted US spectacles, you might argue that if the US can stay closer to the Australians they could reel them in on the last legs... but I wouldn't agree.

Whatever the end result of this intriguing decision is, it absolutely shows how much importance the US are putting on the men's 4 x 100 free relay.

Current Prediction - 1) Australia 2) USA 3) France


  1. Nice piece,very interesting read!
    Though I disagree, people probably want Phelps in that final, because as good as Lochte is and could be in London, "i finished second to Lochte in the Olympic final in 2012" probably doesn't mean nearly as much as "I finished second to Michael Phelps in the Olympic final in 2012" in 30 years when they're telling the story to the kids.

    1. True, I can see how that might be a slight factor, with no disrespect to Lochte (really, there are hardly any swimmers who have had the shine of Michael Phelps).


    But seriously, Phelps could be close to Magnussen, and that would seriously shift momentum. And do we trust James Roberts?

    Note: I am right now picking Australia to win. Don't make me say that again.

  3. Phelps close to magnussen?

    Phelps will probably be fourt of third after the start, behind Magnussen Cielo and mabne even behind Agnel or Meynard if the open the French Relay.. and by fourth Phelps will at most have a 47 high 48 flat opening... Magnussen a 46,9 47 flat, Cielo a 47 mid and The French a 47 high also..

  4. Phelps remains the greatest of all time, and he has goals. The greatest of all time happy with a 1:45-high in the 200 free? Not anywhere close to his peak. He will be ready. Of possible lead-off swimmers, only Cielo and Phelps, I think, can get close to Magnussen.

    1. Agnel can get close too.

      And about Cielo, that is on the condition that BRA qualifies for final.

    2. David,
      I really shouldn't be having trouble with where to place Cielo on personal predictions for London, considering his relay anchor at Panams that suggests that he has a 47.3 in him, but for some reason I do.

      Cielo has been opening his 100s relatively slowly by his standards lately, which I believe is throwing away his biggest (and perhaps only advantage over magnussen) advantage. At this point, if Cielo fails to go sub48 before London (Paris Open?), it would be difficult for me to believe he has much more than 47.6 or even 47.7.

      That said, I would not underestimate Agnel. He wouldn't throw away an almost guaranteed bronze if he didn't believe things will come full circle in the 100. Really, he was able to drop 0.5 going from '11 trials to '11 worlds with imperfect preparation (as illustrated by his 400 swim), what about this year? I have already penciled him in to beat Lochte in the 200free, and I have a strong hunch he is going to beat Adrian and Phelps as well.

      I won't go as far as to suggest he could challenge Magnussen in the upcoming years. But I believe he has, as bowman noted, the qualities of a champion, worth ethic it would take to bridge gap between 48.0 and 47.0

    3. Cielo was probably "experimenting" the perfect mix for his awesome start/not so good resistance looking to maximize... but Cielo is the kind of guy than when is needed to step up you know he will be there.

    4. john26,
      Cielo is not opening slow.There is not much events where he was RESTED/SEMI-RESTED to do that.Cielo dont open strong if he is not rested.You can guess even his 50 free time with his opening.
      He was semi-rested for Maria Lenk, but at the end, with all events, he was dead tired.Even his 50 free in 4x50 relay was weak(21.24, bousquet made 21.28, on pair with his 21.79 time).If you heard coach Alberto interview post-MLTrophy he was talking about the excess of events in a short meeting(50free,50fly,100free,4x100free,4x100medley with less one day than before).And he was Clear:>>>If Cielo is doing 21.38 in 50 free, you KNOW he is gonna open a lot faster than 23.04.<<<
      In Pan Ams, the interval between individual 100 free and 4x100 free was only one hour.Cielo is not Michael Phelps(and he knows that!).It was a waste to him to make two TOP 100free, when he knew it the best swimmers are around 48.7(fratus and fraser brothers-->remember hanser was a 48.99 swimmer before Pan).
      In last Thursday, coach Alberto talked and he told:>Dont count Brazil out of relays medal chances(4x100 free and 4x100 medley).
      He is training Pereira,Dos Santos,Oliveira and Cielo, he must know what he is talking about it.

  5. I bet they are going to do another swim off like in O8, Lochte did that to see if he would be on the 4x100. I am very interested to see what team the US is going to put together for that relay. I still think lochte should have been on the relay at worlds last year..

  6. I am from Brazil and I admit that it makes me laugh when I read brazilian coments here. I have the impression that brazilians also believe that Fabiola Molina will beat Zueva and Franklin in 100 back. That Kaio Almeida will beat Phelps, Cseh, the japanese , Chad le Klos, Bence Biczo, etc. in 200 fly. That Pereira will crush Cseh, Phelsp and Lochte in 200im. Fascinating indeed.
    About the 200 free:
    1) Agnel
    2) Biedermann
    3) lochte, chinese, izotov or park..very difficult to preview.

    4x100 free:
    All of you underestimate the russians. I believe that they can fight for a medal, including the gold. They have 5 swimmers ( Izotov, Grechin, Lagunov, Morozov and Lobintsev) who are in 48 low-middle, and I think at least 2 ( Izotov and Lobintsev) can be 47.
    1) AUS
    2) RUS
    3)USA, but french team can be a serious threat.

    1. Wow.

      You are the first not-so overly optimistic and patriotic Brazilian I encountered in swimming sites :)

    2. I believe so. People here also say that we have chances in the 4x100 Free...pathetic!!! Cielo in 50 F is the only hope ( and I expect gold- sorry if in this case I am also over optimistic-). In 100 F Cielo was the king in super-suits, but once they were banned, his kingdon also finished. Cielo´s 47 high in Pan-American Games was not a good example because it was in high altitude ( it improves short runs, 50, 100) and because the competition was not strong, he could keep all his power to the final

    3. altitude does not improve short runs on the water... it difficulties that.
      Higher altitude have low Air Drag.. but they are on the water.. the altitude stuff applies only to athetlics.. especially jumps and throws..

      For swimmers, higher altitude means less oxygen available on each breath, also the start blocks of Gualajara were pretty Lame.

      Not talking about being optmistic on not, but altitude is not a good thing for swimmers.

    4. Oh, My!That Anonymous telling altitude helps swimmers is a Joke.Even in athletic, the runner/jumper MUST be adapted to enviroment and dont have any minor injury/disease because will slow him down.
      In PanAms, almost HALF of the team was with a minor altitude effects.Nose bleeding,sore or dry throat(like Cielo) and even tonsillitis(Fratus).Cielo was seeing a doctor two days before 100 free(at that time, i thought was a excuse to not perform well at PanAms, but he delivered more or less well ->50 free was a lof off his 21.30 time goal).
      About 4x100 free: I think Brazil have a MINOR chance.Brazil is a leg short of have a great team.I only posted what coach Alberto told what HE believes, not me.For me is AUS,USA and FRA in THAT order with RUSSIA biting from outside.

      For Brazilian Anon:
      Shot at a medal, in theory, anyone in a final have, what is different than get that medal.

  7. Just a question, like strong winds can impact upon outdoor races surely altitude can impact on a race too?

    For example, the swimmers entire body is not underwater. In butterfly for example, the swimmers can come quite high out of the water and therefore would less drag not come into play? in short races? Or less resistence when a backstrokers arm comes over? Or in even in breaststroke?

    I personally think altitude can add a little to a performance, not even .1 but it can, in my opinion having not seen any real research.

    1. No because the drag will me minimal, and general swimming contidion is not affected by that because of their enviroment is the water.A lot of guys complained about altitude(1500meter specialist Arthur Frayler was saying he was a second slower per 100 than he could be in 1500->Note:I doubt, for me there is a penalty to swim in altitude, but probably is considerably minor than 0.5s per 100)
      Jack, you can put in consideration the BREATH condition in swimming.At high rate swimming, the first breath will come with LESS O2 than normally goes, and even in start blocks, when the swimmer is just preparing to jump, there is less in the air for him to breath.In the track, because of less air resistance, you dont need all of power because you will be aided, but you got WEAKER earlier than anyone else because the lack of O2.In events bigger than 20 seconds time at high rate strenght, the effects will be showed.
      Besides Cielo,Hermann and Pereira, Brazil team times sucked big time... some guys 3seconds slower in 200, the best relay guy(Is Oliveira, not Cielo)closing in 49.40...

  8. jack.. even if it added.. it would not be benefical because altitude itself diminishes the quantity of oxigen your body can use for the swimmers and the entire body suffers from altitude.
    The body does not addapt itself easily to this situation, it takes days, even weeks to full adaptation

  9. and the amount of time you are out of water is too little... it does not even come close to race and jumps... I won´t even count throws on that, couse those events are the one who benefits more.

    But for races it only has impact on short races (100 200 meters mostly) long distance runners suffers from altitude... at about 400 meter races there are no "good" effects at all and after that the races become worse for the athletes.

  10. It is interesting to see that he has dropped the 200m Free. With such a large workload he probably has to. I just can't wait for the showdown in the IM. I think the best 2 races of the meet will be the 100m Free and the IM. I can't pick a winner at the minute between Lochte and Phelps. Can't wait!

    1. In my opinion, Lochte would win 200 IM had he not swum the 200 back.

  11. Think the best race of the meet will be the women's 200free, by a long way!

  12. Think the best race of the meet will be the women's 200free, by a long way!

  13. Think the best race of the meet will be the women's 200free, by a long way!

  14. thanks for sharing.