INDIANAPOLIS — Maybe, Michael Phelps isn’t finished swimming the 400 IM after all.
Certainly not if his mother has a say in the new discussion.
The Baltimore native slashed more than four seconds off his season-best time Friday and held off a late charge form Tyler Clary to win his second race in two days at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Beside, could he really disappoint mom?
“My mom was probably happy to watch this race tonight,” Phelps said with a wide grin. “She always says it’s her favorite race to watch me.”
Earlier in the day, Phelps‘ mother and sister lamented the possibility that it could be the final 400 IM of his career.
He has repeatedly sworn off the event since the Beijing Olympics, calling it the toughest and most painful event in the pool, and earlier this week didn’t seem to be giving any ground on the possibility of entering the event at this summer’s Olympics.
Now things could be changing.
Phelps‘ time of 4:12.51, was the third fastest in the world this season and far better than the 4:16.95 he posted at Austin, Texas, in January. And, Phelps said, it was the first time he ever cracked 4:13 while doing the brutal in-season workouts that force swimmers to usually compete in a continual state of fatigue. So the event has not been ruled out of the Olympic equation.
“It all depends on if I’m able to swim the other events,” he said. “If it’s not going to mess up the over events, who knows? Yes, I know that’s different than I said before.”
Coach Bob Bowman also opened the door to the possibility.
One day after critiquing his prized pupil’s finish in the 100 butterfly and questioned Phelps‘ mental preparation for the morning prelims, Bowman watched a much more Phelps-like performance. The 14-time Olympic gold medalist earned the No. 2 qualifying spot in the morning prelims, just behind Clary.
In the finals, Phelps surrendered an early lead to Clary on the backstroke, but reclaimed the lead with a strong turn when the swimmers switched to breaststroke. Phelps never trailed again, though he was wearily taking breaths on every other stroke during the final 100 and finally held off Clary in the final 15 meters. Clary came in at 4:13.01.
It was enough to make Bowman think twice about entering the event in London.
“I wouldn’t say the door is completely closed. There’s probably a crack after tonight,” Bowman said. “But it is a great indication that he’s made a lot of progress since January and he’s in much better condition.”
Phelps‘ biggest rival, Ryan Lochte, wasn’t as happy with his results.