Michael Phelps: Pivotal Events Left in Swimmer's Record Pursuit

Matthew Dicker@@MattDickerContributor IIIJuly 31, 2012

Michael Phelps: Pivotal Events Left in Swimmer's Record Pursuit

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    The results are in for Michael Phelps's attempt at gold in the 200 meter butterfly and the 4x200 meter freestyle relay (don't worry, you won't find any spoilers here), leaving him with three chances to pick up additional Olympic hardware.

    The greatest Olympian in the history of the United —perhaps the world—has not been as dominant as he was in Athens or Beijing. Yet he has shown that he is still capable of winning Olympic medals, even if they are not of the gold variety. 

    Here is a look at the events Phelps still has ahead of him in his pursuit to break Larisa Latynina's record for most Olympic medals won.

200 Meter Individual Medley

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    Qualifications: August 1, 2012, 6:06AM EST
    Semifinals: August 1, 2012, 3:36PM EST
    Finals: August 2, 2012, 3:16PM EST

    Phelps has dominated the 200 meter individual medley in international competitions since 2002, where he won the gold in the event at the Pan Pacific Championships. Since then, he has won gold in the event at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships, and the 2003, 2005 and 2007 World Championships. 

    Phelps excelled in the event at the Olympic trials, posting a time of 1:54:84—the best time anyone swam in 2012, but only 0.09 seconds ahead of rival Ryan Lochte's time at the trials. Lochte, who just won gold in the 400 meter individual medley, will be Phelps's steepest competition in the event.

    Laszlo Cseh, who won the silver medal in the event at the 2008 Olympics for Hungary, will also challenge Phelps. Cseh's 2012 Olympic performance has been disappointing thus far, but it is his signature event, and he is widely expected to medal.

100 Meter Butterfly

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    Qualifications: August 2, 2012, 6:14AM EST
    Semifinals: August 2, 2012, 3:43PM EST
    Finals: August 3, 2012, 2:38PM EST

    No man other than Michael Phelps has won an Olympic gold medal in the butterfly since 2000. The competition has fared little better at the World Championships; Phelps has won gold in both the 100 meter and 200 meter in every World Championships since he won silver in the 100 meter at the 2005 Championships.

    Phelps has owned the world record in the event since 2009, when he swam the long course event in 49.82 seconds in the infamous "Plastic Games" in Rome. He was a bit slower (51.14 seconds) at the Olympic trials, but he still posted the best time and is expected to win gold in London. Phelps said that he wasn't happy with his performance in the race, which leads one to wonder what a satisfying performance in the event in London could look like.

4x100 Meters Medley Relay

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    Qualifications: August 3, 2012, 6:49AM EST
    Finals: August 4, 2012, 3:27PM EST

    After Team USA's somewhat disappointing silver medal finish in the 4x100 freestyle relay, Phelps & Co. will try to reclaim their position atop the podium at the 4x100 meter medley relay. 

    Phelps will be joined by breaststroke specialist Brendan Hansen, backstroker Nick Thoman, and freestyler Matt Grevers.  Phelps will participate as the team's butterflyer.

    Phelps is the only member of the 4x100 freestyle relay team who will participate in this event, so not much can be inferred from the French team's victory over Team USA. Still, Team USA's defeat in the event will surely linger over the medley team's effort to reach the top of the podium.