Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin can afford results like on Saturday now, but not in four weeks.
Phelps and Franklin were both beaten in 200m freestyles at the Austin Elite Invite in Texas, expected to be their final meet before the Olympic Trials in Omaha from June 26-July 3. Full meet results are here.
Phelps finished fourth in his 200m free, behind three younger Americans who have recently swum for the University of Texas. The field did not include the U.S.’ top men in the event, Conor Dwyer and Ryan Lochte.
Phelps’ time, 1:48.73, did not improve on the best times of his comeback (1:48.20 in 2014 and 1:48.21 on April 14).
“Tonight was really kind of upsetting, frustrated me,” Phelps told Swimswam.com. “You kind of just have to trust [coach] Bob [Bowman].”
Phelps wants to be part of the Olympic 4x200m free relay for a fourth straight Games, but that is not a given since the fastest 200m free of his comeback would have placed eighth at the 2012 Olympic Trials. (Phelps did split a stronger 1:46.08 in the middle of a 4x200m free relay at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships)
Franklin faces a tougher task, to finish in the top two in the 200m freestyle at the Olympic Trials. That’s because she’s up against the reigning Olympic champion Allison Schmitt and the reigning World champion Katie Ledecky.
On Saturday, the 2013 World champion Franklin was beaten by Schmitt in the 200m free for a second straight meet, this time by a comfortable .91 of a second. Ledecky, who owns the fastest time in the world this year, is not competing this weekend. Schmitt also beat Franklin in the 100m freestyle on Friday.
However, Franklin was faster on Saturday (1:57.78) than she was at this meet four years ago (1:57.91), a sign that she’s on the right track as she trains to peak at the Olympic Trials.
Later Saturday, Franklin won the 200m backstroke in 2:09.45. The field did not include her top rivals to make the Olympic team — Maya DiRado, Kathleen Baker and Elizabeth Beisel.
The Austin Elite Invite ends Sunday.