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Pan Pacific update: Michael Phelps does not make 400 IM final

August 19, 2010 | 12:51 pm


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.

 “I knew coming into that race it was going to be a rather painful way to sort of wake me up. I’m happy I did it. I don’t remember it ever being that painful. But, oh well, it’s a good reminder we need to be in a whole lot better shape.”

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].

 Did Clary take it all personally?

“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.

 “No harm done. A little experiment.”

-- Lisa Dillman

Photo: Michael Phelps. Credit: Robyn Beck / Getty Images.