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Michael Phelps has chance to cement his place in Olympic history

Phelps could become the first swimmer to win the same event in three consecutive Olympics and has an opportunity to win eight gold medals again.

July 01, 2012|By Bill Shaikin

OMAHA — The best Michael Phelps can do in London is eight gold medals, same as he did in Beijing. So how could he possibly do better this time?

"It depends upon what better is," said his coach, Bob Bowman.

Phelps said Sunday he has goals for London, but he declined to share them. He could become the first swimmer to win the same event in three consecutive Olympics. With three medals — of any kind — he would have more medals than any athlete in Olympic history.

Phelps could write his place in the history books, but Bowman was not shy about saying how Phelps could cement his place there.

"He could take the gold-medal count to a level nobody will ever touch," Bowman said.

Phelps already has 14. No one else has more than nine.

Ryan Lochte has three, and suggestions that he would dethrone Phelps as the king of American swimming appeared wildly premature at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. In four head-to-head battles, Phelps won three.

Lochte had declared this time as "my time."

"I always love competition," Phelps said. "I'm always a fan of quotes, statements, whatever you want to say they are. So it was a fun week."

Phelps plans to retire after the Olympics. He capped his trials career by winning the 100-meter butterfly, with Tyler McGill second and Lochte third.

Said Phelps: "My last one on American soil, my last Olympic trials swim. That's it. It's kind of weird."

Jones wins 50 free

Cullen Jones won the 50 freestyle, then delivered a blunt two-word response to the question of what he might focus on between now and London.

"Cesar Cielo," Jones said, referring to the Brazilian world-record holder in the event.

Anthony Ervin finished second to Jones, extending his unlikely comeback. Ervin, 31, got his lone Olympic medal by winning gold in the 50 free in the 2000 Games. He walked away from competitive swimming in 2003 and did not commit to returning until last year.

"I just want to keep the fun train chugging," he said. "I'm not going to complain if I win a medal."

Torres in 50 final

Dara Torres, 45, trying to become the first six-time Olympian among American swimmers, qualified for Monday's finals of the women's 50 freestyle.

In the 2008 Olympic trials, Torres won the 50 and the 100 freestyle. The top six finishers in the 100 here qualify for the Olympic team, with third through sixth place good for a relay spot. In the 50, however, the top two qualify for London and the rest stay home.

The 100 would require three swims in two days, while the 50 requires two swims in one day. At her age, she said the 50 is all she can handle.

"It's much tougher this time around," Torres said. "People were saying I was middle-aged at 41, but I am really middle-aged now."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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