Michael Phelps is back! Phelps went through a rough stretch. He seemed to have lost focus and was no longer dominant as a swimmer. He had retired and came back and then retired and came back again, but without the same drive that took him to such heights originally.
He also collected two DWIs or DUIs (whichever you prefer). The last one was this past fall and the powers that be in the swimming world decided he needed to learn a lesson and banned him from major competitions for 6 months. We wonder how many other swimmers who have had similar problems have met similar punishment? It is most likely part of what comes along with being famous and very visible.
Rehab Seems to Have Worked
However, Phelps may end up thanking them. He went to rehab and he seems to have come out focussed and with a passion for swimming again. He has been training like he did in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics and hasn’t done since. However, that training hadn’t been translating into performance in the swim meets he was allowed to take part in. Either his turns were off or something else would go a bit wrong.
But it was also because he wasn’t tapering and was probably tired at some of these meets. Tapering is when you shorten your practices and ease up some as you approach a meet. This allows your body to recover and you have more energy for the meet.
Sending a Long Distance Message
So they just had the World Swimming Championships in Russia. At the same time they had the US National Championships in San Antonio. Normally this would have our top swimmers but this year it was like the JV team because the top swimmers were all in Russia. Except for Michael Phelps because of the ban. But, they felt his presence all the way from San Antonio. On the women’s side, Katie Ledecky was in Russia and she made quite a statement as well. She won five golds from 200m to 1500m which is unheard of to win at such different distances.
There are three events that Phelps is likely to swim in the Olympics, 200m butterfly, 100m butterfly and 200m IM. In all three Phelps put up the best time in the world this year. First he swam the 200m butterfly in his best time since 2009 and faster than the gold medal winner at the world championships in Russia who had won the event earlier that day.
In Your Face
Then there was the 100m butterfly. Chad le Clos won this event at the world championships in a very fast time and then mouthed off, saying Phelps could keep quiet because le Clos’ time was faster than anything Phelps had swum in the last 4 years. le Clos had also been a surprise winner over Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Olympics. Wrong move. Don’t taunt Phelps. A few hours later, Phelps put up a faster time than le Clos.
To make it a trifecta, after the 200m IM was swum in Russia, Phelps went out and beat that time as well. Not only were the wins impressive, but so was the rest of the factors that go into leading up to a win. You can’t swim multiple events and go all out every time because there is a lot of swimming over the swim meet. You don’t just swim in the finals. You have to swim in preliminary heats in order to get to the finals and you have to do that in all the events you are swimming in. So you can’t expend all your energy in the preliminaries but you still have to swim fast enough to get to the finals. For the first time in a long time Phelps managed all these aspects very well.
The swimming events in the upcoming Olympics is starting to look very interesting.