Michael Phelps scratched out of another race Wednesday morning at Olympic Trials, opting to skip the 100-meter freestyle in favor of resting up for the 200-meter butterfly final in the evening.
Phelps was entered in both the 100- and 200-meter freestyle but did not swim either. That calls into question his possible place on freestyle relay teams at the Olympics. The 4x100 and 4x200 relays used to be part of his bedrock program at major meets.
His coach, Bob Bowman, is the men's Olympic coach this year, and he could place Phelps on the relay teams regardless. But the scratches could also signal that Phelps has decided to focus on his three individual events -- the 100- and 200-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley. He's also expected to be on the medley relay team, assuming he holds his form in the 100 butterfly.
Already, he's watched several of his teammates from the 2012 Olympics struggle in signature events. Missy Franklin finished seventh in the women's 100-meter backstroke after winning gold in the event in London. Matt Grevers also won gold in the 100 back in 2012 only to finish third in a ferociously contested men's final on Tuesday. Phelps' oldest rival, Ryan Lochte, has fallen short in both of his individual races, though he's headed to Rio de Janeiro as part of the 4x200 relay team.
"I see a lot of new faces on the team," Phelps said after winning his 200 butterfly semifinal Tuesday. "I don't even know half of them."
He said that's good for the sport. But perhaps it also means he does not want to take anything for granted, even after winning his first two races easily.