OMAHA, Neb. — Michael Phelps’ Olympic program is set. He’ll be going for another eight gold medals.
He’s not the only one who’ll be busy in London. Get ready to see a lot of Missy Franklin.
And how ’bout Anthony Ervin! After eight years away from swimming, he’ll be at the Olympics, too.
Phelps wrapped up another stellar week at the U.S. trials Sunday night, rallying to win the 100-meter butterfly and secure his spot in five individual races at the Olympics. Throw in the three relays, and that adds up to eight.
“I guess that’s OK,” Phelps said nonchalantly.
Franklin will have four individual races in London after capping her week with a dominating win in the 200 backstroke. She’s expected to swim all three relays, as well, setting her up to become the first U.S. woman to swim seven events in a single games.
Uhh, make that the first female. She’s still a girl, a 17-year-old who’ll be a high school senior in the fall. But first, she’s got some important business this summer: the Olympics.
“I can’t believe I have seven events,” Franklin said. “It’s so overwhelming but so exciting. The whole week went really, really well.”
Ervin will have only one event in London, a chaotic dash from one end of the pool to the other. But it’s amazing that he’s going at all, considering he walked away from the sport in 2003 while at the peak of his career, burned out and desperate to discover a deeper meaning to life. He spent eight years working odd jobs, finished his college degree and even auctioned off the gold medal he won in the 50 free at Sydney in 2000 to aid tsunami victims.
Now, after returning to the sport just a year ago, he’s got a chance to win another gold. A runner-up finish behind Cullen Jones in the 50 freestyle locked up his improbable spot on the U.S. team.
Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian finished third, out of the running for an Olympic berth in the event.
“I am surprised to be here at all,” said the 31-year-old Ervin, who has a sleeve of tattoos on each arm and turns interviews into a discussion on everything from philosophy to Biblical parables.
He put on quite a show during the medal ceremony, grabbing the mic and shouting, “The journey continues, because I’m going to Londonnnnn!” Then, after slamming it to the deck with a loud thud, he took off on a victory lap around the arena, soaking up the cheers of more than 12,000 fans.
A couple of other races provided quite a generation gap. Fifteen-year-old Kathleen Ledecky earned a spot on her first Olympic team with a win in the 800 freestyle, while 45-year-old Dara Torres advanced to the final of the women’s 50 free — and a shot at her sixth Olympic team — with the third-fastest time in the semifinals.
“It’s much tougher this time around,” said Torres, who won three silver medals in Beijing but had only one event at these trials. “People were saying I was middle aged when I was 41, but I’m really, really middle aged now.”
Phelps was slow off the blocks and made the turn in sixth place. But he caught Tyler McGill on the return lap and surged to the wall to win 51.14 seconds, well off his world-record pace (49.82) but fastest in the world this year.
McGill hung on for the second Olympic spot in 51.32.