BEIJING -- It's a good thing
As soon as he finished his 200 IM victory lap, Phelps had about two minutes to change out of his dress sweats, don his parka, throw on his cap and goggles, plug earbuds into his ears and walk out for the start of the first 100-m butterfly semifinal. His song of choice?
"I'm not really sure what it was," he said.
Day 7 of Phelps's campaign to win a record eight gold medals may go down in his book as his longest. Yes, Day 5 was a bear: He had two finals, the 200 fly and the 4x200 freestyle, with just an hour in between, and he had a goggle malfunction to boot. But he was chatty and relaxed after that double. On Friday, he trudged into the press conference and then spoke in the low, flat tones of the profoundly pooped. His eyes blinked slowly. He appeared to be in desperate need of a nap.
In the pool, Phelps had been his usual indomitable self. His win in the 200 IM was eerily reminiscent of his win in the 400 IM five days earlier. Leading the whole way, he pulled away in the breaststroke -- his weakest stroke -- to beat Hungary's
If anyone can appreciate how difficult and exhausting Phelps' schedule is, it's
"The mental energy and emotional energy and physical energy it takes to go out there and get up every time, even for a prelim -- you have to put some effort in, even Michael," said Hoff. "It's incredible that he's swimming even more than I swam, doing it in world record time and winning gold medals. It definitely gives me more respect [for him], even more than I already had."
Phelps's next race, the 100 butterfly, may be his toughest yet. In the preliminaries on Thursday night, he was a body-length behind the leader at the 50 and finished second to
"For me to be a player in that race tomorrow, I have to be closer at the 50," he after the semis. "If I'm not there at the 50, it's going to be tough to make up."
Phelps qualified second for the final, sandwiched between two guys who are on their own medal quests. Qualifiying third was world record-holder
This time, he hopes, luck will be on his side. "I have a feeling this is my time to do something," he said. "This is my moment in life."
Cavic would like to be remembered as the guy who won Serbia's first swimming medal. Better yet, he'd like to be remembered as the guy who ruined Phelps's quest for eight gold medals.
"It would be kind of nice that one day historically they will speak of Michael Phelps winning seven gold medals and having lost an opportunity to win eight gold medals, and when they talk about that, they'll talk about that guy who took it away from him," Cavic said.
"I would love to be that guy."