OMAHA, Neb. -- 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.
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.
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.
Phelps has to swim preliminaries, semifinals and finals in the 200 IM,
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.
Eventually, Phelps recommitted to coming to practice and doing the work.
He and Bowman viewed the eight-day trials as a barometer for how Phelps’ body would handle the busy schedule.
Dropping the 200 free also removes one of Phelps’ showdowns with American rival Ryan Lochte, the defending world champion. They will now face each other in just the two individual medleys.
Phelps is giving up the chance to defend his 200 free Olympic title and regain the world record that Germany’s Paul Biedermann set at the 2009 world championships wearing one of the high-tech bodysuits that are now banned. Phelps will still have a chance to three-peat in his other four individual races. No swimmer has ever won the same event in three straight Olympics.
Phelps confirmed that he will retire after his last swim in London.