American swimmer Tyler Clary is only competing in two events in London, but that hasn't stopped him from making headlines. He bashed teammate Michael Phelps' preparation for the Olympic Games, but when they go head-to-head in the 200-meter butterfly finals, Phelps will render his detractor speechless.
Prior to the start of the Olympics, Clary wasn't shy about sharing his feelings regarding Phelps. According to Scott Gleeson of USA Today, Clary wasn't particularly impressed with the training regimen of Phelps, who is one medal away from tying the all-time Olympic record for most career medals won.
I saw a real lack of preparation (from) him. Basically, he was a swimmer that didn't want to be there. They can talk about all of these goals and plans and preparation they have. I saw it. I know. It's different.
Although Clary has since apologized to Phelps for the comments and the U.S. team as a whole for any distractions he may have created, his true feelings are clearly out in the open. Luckily for Clary, he will have a golden opportunity to put Phelps' preparation to the test as they each qualified for the 200-meter butterfly finals.
The 200 fly is considered Phelps' signature event as he is the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist in the event and holds the world record as well. Clary posted a better time than Phelps in the heats, but Phelps was faster in the semifinals as he qualified with the fourth-fastest time, while Clary came in fifth.
Phelps is known for taking it easy in qualifying, however, so it's difficult to say whether his times thus far are indicative of his true form. Phelps managed to win his semifinal heat as he dominated the final 50 meters of the race. There were three faster times in the other semifinal, but it might be a different story when they go toe-to-toe with Phelps.
Clary, who is making his Olympic debut, is one of Team USA's strongest swimmers, but Phelps is at a completely different level when he is on his game. There have been a lot of whispers regarding Phelps' ability after he placed fourth in the 400-meter individual medley, but he stormed back with a blistering split in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
It's impossible to know which version of Phelps will show up, but the butterfly is his main event, while the individual medley is something he was lukewarm about competing in to begin with. Perhaps his lack of preparation for the 400-meter IM affirms Clary's comments to some degree, but he may have poked a sleeping giant as well.
Clary is a solid swimmer and has a bright future at just 23 years of age, but he should be in for a reality check. There is no rule against having an opinion, but Clary should have thought better of criticizing perhaps the greatest Olympic swimmer ever. Even if Phelps' training wasn't at as high of a level as it should have been, he's perfectly capable of flipping the switch on the big stage.
Phelps will enter the 200-meter butterfly finals as an overwhelming favorite, and I expect him to live up to that status. Clary may be a great Olympian in his own right one day, but he is about to receive a first-hand lesson in what it takes to be a champion.
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