Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte were warned by coach Bob Bowman tonight that playing cat and mouse with each other in their eternal head-to-head clashes could give gold medals away to overseas rivals.
Phelps, who has scratched from the 100m freestyle at US Olympic trials (the 4x100m freestyle relay is still on the map for the winner of a record 14 Olympic gold medals), told a packed press conference here in Omaha: "When we're next to each other we play cat and mouse, we don't jump after it. When it comes down to it we put every ounce into that last 50."
All good and well at US trials, Bowman said, but that could come at a high price in warmer waters. "Ryan and Michael are so focussed on racing each other they do stuff like not take it out fast enough … in the process they forget to swim fast."
Outside the conference room later, SwimNews asked Bowman if he though it would be dangerous to play cat and house when Yannick Agnel, Park Tae-hwan and others are in the mix. "It can be," replied the coach before revealing that he had spoken to Lochte's coach and Us head men's coach Gregg Troy on the topic.
"When they started out racing each other they would do that. They stopped doing it but now they're doing it again," said Bowman.
Phelps said a 1:45 would not make the podium in London. "It was a pretty slow 200," he said, adding: "I was pretty upset by the time." A German reporter asked about his rivalry with Paul Biedermann. "There's not only Paul," said Phelps. "There's Tae-Hwan, Agnel…".
Lochte turned to Phelps on the podium and noted how slow the time was. "he told me 'I guess we're going to have to take it out faster'."
Expect it to happen... but not in the 100m.
James "The Missile" Magnussen, a unique beast in the sprint stall, is not on the radar for Phelps at London 2012 as far as solo campaigns go, Bowman confirmed. It was back in March when the Australian rocked the sprint world with a 47.10 blast over 100m that Phelps was engaged in a hefty set of workouts and asked his coach whether the 400IM might not be one to go for after all.
To Bowman it had been a no-brainer for a while but now it made sense to Phelps himself. The possibility of a 47-flat 100m challenge? Remote to say the least. The possibility of more history making as the first man in the triple champions' club with Dawn Fraser and Krisztina Egerszegi on the first day of action in London 2012 before Kosuke Kitajima gets the chance? Within reach.
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