Rio 2016: Michael Phelps backs out of 200m freestyle ahead of US Olympic trials

Omaha,USA: Michael Phelps won't swim the 200m freestyle at the US Olympic trials, leaving the 18-time gold medalist with four events in his push to qualify for the Rio Games.

"My first event will be the 2 (200) fly," Phelps said late Sunday, as he turned out at CenturyLink Center to see training partner and friend Chase Kalisz book an Olympic berth with a victory in the 400m individual medley.

 Rio 2016: Michael Phelps backs out of 200m freestyle ahead of US Olympic trials

File Photo of Michael Phelps. AP

After the 200m butterfly, which begins with heats on Tuesday morning, Phelps is also entered in the 100m fly, the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley.

Phelps, who turns 31 on Thursday, won the 200m free at the 2008 Beijing Games as part of his historic eight-gold haul.

But he hasn't excelled in the event since coming out of the brief retirement that followed the 2012 London Games.

While a strong 200m free swim at the trials might boost Phelps's claim to a 4x200m free relay berth, it's not essential.

Any swimmer on the Rio team can be selected for any relay, and Phelps's coach Bob Bowman, who will serve as head coach of the US men in Rio, said before the trials that a strong showing in other events would be enough to put Phelps in the relay mix.

"I think you have to weigh how he does in these trials," Bowman said. "If he's at his top level, you have to assume he's at his top level across the board.

"We'll see how things go and look at the field and look at what we've got."

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Updated Date: Jun 27, 2016 15:52:43 IST