Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky will swim on the U.S. Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay teams, according to USA Today.
Phelps didn’t swim the 100m freestyle at the Olympic Trials but has been on that relay at the last three Olympics. 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.
Phelps’ reported inclusion this year would mean his first race of his fifth and final Olympics will be Sunday night in the 4x100m freestyle relay final, should the U.S. qualify into the eight-team race in the morning.
U.S. coaches decide which swimmers go on relays. The U.S. men’s head coach, Bob Bowman (also Phelps’ longtime personal coach), said Saturday that he knew Phelps’ status for the 4x100m and 4x200m free relays, but he wouldn’t reveal it. It’s still unknown whether Phelps will be on the 4x200m free relay later in the Games.
France was picked by The Associated Press and Sports Illustrated to win the men’s 4x100m free relay for a second straight Games. The AP has the U.S. taking silver ahead of Brazil. SI has the U.S. taking bronze behind Australia.
Phelps is also slated to race the 100m and 200m butterflies, 200m individual medley, 4x100m medley relay and possibly the 4x200m free relay later in the Games.
Ledecky will swim in the 4x100m free relay prelims on Saturday morning, according to the report. That would mark her first race of the Games.
Ledecky finished seventh at the Olympic Trials in the 100m free. The top six usually make 4x100m free relay duty, with one, two or three carry-overs from the prelims to the final, but Ledecky’s personal-best time from January ranks her fifth among Americans this year.
If Ledecky swims the prelims but sits out the final, she would still receive a medal if the U.S. final quartet finishes in the top three without her. Australia is heavily favored in the event, but the U.S. is a medal contender.
Ledecky is favored to take gold in her four later events in Rio — the 200m, 400m and 800m frees and the 4x200m free relay.Follow @nzaccardi