Phelps drops 200 free, won't go for 8 golds

Associated Press Modified: July 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: July 2, 2012
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Eight was enough for Michael Phelps in Beijing.

The world's greatest swimmer dropped one of his eight Olympic events on Monday, leaving him with seven at the London Games. That means the 14-time gold medalist won't equal the record eight golds he won four years ago.

And Phelps is just fine with that.

"Four years ago, we were trying to literally do everything," he told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. "That was what we wanted to do but at this point, it's let's go out, let's have some fun, let's relax a little bit."

Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman, announced Monday on the final day of the U.S. trials that Phelps was scratching the 200-meter freestyle.

"It's so much smarter for me to do that," Phelps said. "We're not trying to recreate what happened in Beijing. It just makes more sense."

Phelps qualified in five individual events for London and is expected to swim all three relays. But, on Bowman's recommendation, he will focus on the 200 and 400 individual medley and the 100 and 200 butterfly.

"This is an event program that I'm very confident that I can do and do better than I did here," he said, referring to his results in Omaha.

Bowman said his main concern was Phelps being fresh for the 400 freestyle relay. While the U.S. has traditionally dominated that event, Australia is favored in London. The relay was one of Phelps' closest calls in Beijing, with teammate Jason Lezak coming from behind on the anchor leg to beat a strong French squad.

The relay final is on the same day as the preliminaries and semifinals of the 200 freestyle.

"The 400 free relay is going to be harder than it was last time," Phelps said between bites of French toast, scrambled eggs and bacon over a late breakfast. "It just allows me to put my energy elsewhere instead of trying to control it for another three races."

Phelps has to swim preliminaries, semifinals and finals in the 200 IM, and the 100 and 200 butterfly. The grueling 400 IM, which opens the swimming competition on July 28, has prelims and finals.

"It's a lot and it is going to be stressful," he said. "My body is not going to feel the same as it did after the Beijing 400 IM. I was fresh and still ready to go."

Now 27, Phelps hasn't adhered to the rigid training schedule he was on for years leading up to Beijing. After the Great Haul of China, he took time off and showed little interest in resuming the grind that had prepared him to win eight events.

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