OMAHA, Nebraska, June 24. HE might have played coy with the press about his entry into the men's 400 IM during day one of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials here in Omaha, Neb., but USA Swimming ended speculation today confirming that Michael Phelps would be swimming the men's 400 IM.
Phelps actually teased the fact earlier in the day when he posted a before and after picture (to the right) on Twitter of his moustache, and then shaven face — meaning that it is go time for the Baltimore Bullet in what he is calling his final U.S. Olympic Trials before retiring after the Olympics.
Phelps will be going for his third consecutive victory in the men's 400 IM at Trials after first winning with the biggest Trials margin of victory in 2004 over Erik Vendt (4:08.41 to 4:14.09), then besting Ryan Lochte, 4:05.25 to 4:06.08, in 2008. A threepeat at Trials is one of the few things Phelps does not have on his resume, even though he's likely to accomplish it in a few events to join Gary Hall Jr. as the only other man to do so. Janet Evans, Eleanor Holm and Mary T. Meagher are the three females to have accomplished the feat.
Should Phelps make the team in the distance medley on day one, it will set him up for a chance to become the first man to ever win three straight gold medals in an Olympic event with Kosuke Kitajima nipping on his heels looking for threepeats of his own in the 100 and 200 breast later in the schedule in London.
A victory in the men's 400 IM would also have another milestone attached, Phelps' 10th Trials triumph. He owns the record with nine career wins spread across 2004 and 2008, with former teammate Katie Hoff second with seven. But, an even 10 on the first day of competition in Omaha would be a nice addition to the legacy.
As noted below in the comments, Philip Johnson brings up a great point on Phelps' decision to swim the men's 400 IM at Trials. Phelps adamantly stated he was done with the event after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If he's going back on that now, does that mean his assertions that he's retiring after London due to burnout means that he's gone from competitive swimming for good?