The Olympic swimming competition starts Saturday, and it’s still unknown when Michael Phelps will make his first splash of his fifth and final Olympics.
Phelps could debut in the 200m butterfly first round on Aug. 8. Or, if he’s placed on the 4x100m freestyle relay team, despite not swimming the 100m free at the Olympic Trials, he would swim Aug. 7.
The U.S. coaching staff decides which swimmers make up relays.
U.S. men’s head coach Bob Bowman (also Phelps’ longtime personal coach) was asked Saturday by NBC Atlanta 11Alive’s Matt Pearl what Phelps’ chances were of being part of 4x100m and 4x200m free relays.
“I do know,” Bowman said at a U.S. training camp in Atlanta. “I won’t tell you.”
Phelps made the U.S. Olympic team in the 100m and 200m butterflies and the 200m individual medley by winning those events at the Olympic Trials last month. By winning the 100m butterfly, he also earned a place on the 4x100m medley relay.
Phelps is guaranteed four events at the Olympics, but he could swim in as many as six if the U.S. coaching staff determines he’s a strong option for either the 4x100m or 4x200m freestyle relays.
Phelps swam on both relays at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, but he raced neither the 100m nor the 200m freestyle at the 2016 Olympic Trials. There is precedent for Phelps being put on relays after not swimming the individual event at Trials — in 2004 and 2012 he didn’t swim the 100m free at Trials.Follow @nzaccardi