Phelps takes morning off ahead of big night at trials

Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:01pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Michael Phelps decided to skip the 100 meters freestyle heats at the U.S. Olympic trials but will be back in the spotlight later on Wednesday with a chance to clinch a spot at the Rio Olympics.

The most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, Phelps has now scratched from more events than he has swum so far, having also pulled out of the 200 freestyle on Monday.

Winner of 18 Olympic gold medals, Phelps will now attempt to qualify for the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games in three events -- the 100 and 200 meters butterfly and 200 meters individual medley.

Phelps, who turns 31 on Thursday, will try to give himself an early birthday present by qualifying for a fifth Olympic team when he lines up in the 200 fly final.

After posting the top time in the preliminaries and semis, Phelps is on the brink of a Rio berth and a shot at reclaiming the title he won in Athens and Beijing but surrendered to Chad le Clos at the 2012 London Olympics.

With Phelps focused on the 200 fly, Nathan Adrian took center stage in the preliminaries of the blue riband 100 meters free heats by clocking the best time of 48.43 seconds.

A battling Ryan Lochte, still nursing a pulled groin that hampered his efforts to qualify for a Rio spot in an individual even, scratched from the 100 free semis after putting up a sixth place finish in the preliminaries with 49.13.

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, injured his groin in his opening race on Sunday and has so far been unable to get to the wall first when it mattered, touching third in the 400 individual medley and fourth in the 200 free.   Continued...

Michael Phelps competes during the men's 200m butterfly preliminary heats in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. June 28, 2016. Picture taken June 28, 2016. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports/File photo