07/31 22:20 CDT Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals
Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals
AP National Writer
Michael Phelps will match his most grueling program since coming out of
retirement, entering four events at next week's U.S. national championships.
The winningest athlete in Olympic history will compete in the 100-meter
freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley at the meet
that begins Wednesday in Irvine, California.
"I feel good," Phelps told The Associated Press on Thursday. "Just staying
relaxed is the biggest thing, not putting too much pressure on myself. I'm just
going out and continuing what I've been doing throughout the year --- just
having fun. That's how I've been able to swim my best."
The national championships, along with the Pan Pacific Championships in
Australia a couple of weeks later, will determine the American team for next
year's world championships.
Phelps retired after the London Olympics, having won a record 18 gold medals
and 22 medals overall. He had accomplished all his goals and said he had no
desire to swim into his 30s.
But he began plotting his comeback less than a year later, and began serious
training last September.
Since announcing a return to competition in April, the 29-year-old Phelps has
competed in four meets. The only other time he took on four events was the
Santa Clara Grand Prix in June, when he tied for first in the 100 fly, finished
second in both the 100 and 200 free, and settled for third in the 200 IM.
The nationals will give him another chance to gauge just how far he has come in
a relatively short period of time --- with much more at stake. His longtime
coach, Bob Bowman, said Phelps has shaken off much of the rustiness in his
technique, improving his starts and turns. Conditioning is the biggest question
mark, especially as he takes on more events.
Phelps is just as concerned with his mental approach.
"A couple of races, I've tensed up a little bit. I tried to take it super
seriously and I didn't have good success in those races," he said. "Whatever
happens, happens. There's going to be more heats, more training, where I can
correct things if they don't go as planned next week."
Phelps is set to face his biggest rival, Ryan Lochte, in all four events at
Lochte, coming off major knee surgery, has also entered the 200 free and 200
On the women's side, 17-year-old Katie Ledecky put her name in a staggering
eight events --- every freestyle from the 50 sprint to the 1,500 marathon, as
well as both the 200 and 400 IM. She'll take on fellow Olympic gold medalists
Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt in both the 100 and 200 free, as well as
Schmitt in the 400 free.
Franklin, one of the biggest stars of the London Games with four golds and a
bronze, plans to swim four events at Irvine. She also entered the 100 and 200
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963