London 2012: Michael Phelps Dropping 200-Meter Free Was Brilliant Move

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJuly 2, 2012

OMAHA, NE - JULY 01:  (L-R) Michael Phelps and Tyler McGill participate in the medal cermony for the Men's 100 m Butterfly during Day Seven of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 1, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Michael Phelps' decision to drop the 200-meter freestyle race from his 2012 Olympic Games was nothing short of brilliant, as it will help in his pursuit of seven gold medals during the London Games.

While the move may appear that Phelps is getting old and is losing a step, it comes to keep him fresh and was calculated in a way so he can win the most points possible for the U.S.

Phelps' coach Bob Bowman tweeted that the Olympian who took home eight gold medals in Beijing would be dropping the 200-meter free on Monday:

@MichaelPhelps will be removing the individual 200 freestyle from his Olympic program. This will give him a full slate of 7 events.

— Bob Bowman (@coach_bowman) July 2, 2012

The move is being made so that Phelps will be fresher for his seven events, and so that he will be more capable of winning seven medals.

With the 200-meter free removed, Phelps will be competing in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter fly, 200-meter individual medley, 400-meter individual medley and all three relays. While his schedule still spans from July 28 to August 4, Phelps will not be as challenged during those eight days.

This was how Phelps' schedule looked before he dropped the 200-meter free:

Date Events

400m IM heats, final


200m free heats, semis

4x100m free heats, final


200m fly heats, semis

200m free final


4x200m free heats, final

200m fly final

8/1 200m IM heats, semis

100m fly heats, semis

200m IM final


4x100m Medley heats

100m fly final

8/4 4x100m Medley final

Phelps had a ridiculous four races to compete in on July 29, followed by three on July 30, which would have completely worn him down for the rest of the Games.

However, now he will only have two races on each day—a manageable task for the best swimmer in the world.

The decision to drop the 200-meter free looked questionable because he had beaten rival Ryan Lochte in the finals at trials. However, if he had dropped a different event, his schedule would have been too demanding, and his performance would have suffered.

The decision to drop the 200-meter free was obviously a heavily-discussed one between Phelps and Bowman. These two have been working together for years, and they know exactly what they are doing.

By dropping this event, they may have cost him a single gold. However, Phelps now has a much greater chance of winning all of his events following the 200-meter free.

With his previous schedule that demanded so much, Phelps would have worn down and probably only won four or five golds and a few more medals. With the event dropped, he can conceivably win six or seven events because he will not be so exhausted.

By dropping an event, Phelps will win more golds. This paradoxical phrase may seem ridiculous, but the extra rest of not having to compete in three extra races will have Phelps much closer to peak performance.

The decision to drop the event from Phelps' schedule may seem like a bad idea, as he can no longer match his eight golds in Beijing. However, when scrutinized, the decision is nothing short of genius.


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