Pan Pacific update: Michael Phelps does not make 400 IM final
The wait continues for the resumption of the Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte rivalry in the 400-meter individual medley.
Phelps, who was swimming the event for the first time since the Olympics in 2008, did not qualify for Thursday night’s final, going 4 minutes 15.38 seconds in the heats Thursday morning at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine.
It may have been the fourth-fastest time out of the prelims, but only the top two swimmers from a nation make the final. Ahead of Phelps were American teammates Lochte (4:08.77) and Tyler Clary (4:09.20), who had the first and second-fastest qualifying times, respectively,
“I don’t know, I probably shouldn’t have done it,” Phelps said in the mixed zone, adding a couple of other words. “Oh my God. It was painful. Looking at splits, it wasn’t terrible. I know at trials in the Olympics I’ve been faster than that in the morning.
“I’m trying to think of how many other times I’ve been faster than that in a prelim. I definitely wasn’t expecting those boys to come out and fire one off like that. I expected them to go maybe 4:12, 4:10, hopefully try to get close to that. But it just wasn’t there.
Lochte and Clary were two heats before Phelps, and Phelps had a few things to say to them after their fast swims.
“Michael was kind of joking around, ‘Well, have fun tonight,’” Clary said. “ 'I’m not going any faster than that.’ I’ve learned from him to never trust anything like that when he says it.”
Said Phelps: “They were like, ‘Yeah, right.’ …They could have thought I was trying to be coy. But I was being dead honest. I knew 4:07 was nowhere near being in the tank.”
Clary stood with a couple of reporters in the mixed zone watching Phelps’ heat and asked what the time was after the breaststroke leg. He was told and then walked away to the warm-down pool, mumbling that Phelps was going to beat him.
Maybe he was joking. But it was quite obvious Phelps served as major inspiration.
“I had heard he was a little underwhelmed by the performance out of the 400 IM at nationals -- that might have been part of his motivation, who knows,” Clary said. “Maybe it’s more of training point between him and Bob [Bowman, Phelps' coach].
“Not personally, but I take it as some good motivation,” he said.
Bowman, for his part, saw benefits all around afterward.
“It might encourage him [Phelps], a good reality check, right? Here it is,” Bowman said. “That’s what I like the most. It motivated those other guys, showed him exactly where he is in the morning in this situation. What they can do. What he can do.
Photo: Michael Phelps. Credit: Robyn Beck / Getty Images.