GOLD COAST, Australia, August 20. HEAT sheets for the entire competition at the Pan Pacific championships have been released, and Michael Phelps scratching the 200 free and 100 backstroke on Thursday appear to be the only major changes from the psych sheet released earlier this week.
Phelps had planned to swim in five individual events, but is scaling back to just the 100 freestyle on Friday, the 100 butterfly on Saturday and the 200 individual medley on Sunday. Phelps could still participate in the 400 free relay if his 100 free time is fast enough to knock out other swimmers who made the Pan Pac team for relay purposes. He’ll also need to post the fastest time in the 100 fly to get a spot on the medley relay, since the relays are timed finals only at Pan Pacs.
Many countries will experience some fast racing in the heats as three or more athletes per country per event have chances to post times good enough to get into the A final. The Pan Pacific championships rule allows only two athletes per country in any A final, with another athlete from the same country allowed in the B final. Several Americans will be racing not only for spots in the championship final in each event, but for those coveted roster spots for next year’s world championships. Though the top two times from the finals at U.S. nationals and Pan Pacs will swim the individual 200 free next year in Kazan, the third through sixth places among Americans will get picked for relay duty. That will create some intense swimming within the U.S. team, and will likely carry over to the other countries.