Michael Phelps, left, and Tyler Clary look up after taking the top two spots… (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)
Michael Phelps is a slacker.
That's basically what fellow U.S. swimmer Tyler Clary says he noticed during the year he and the 14-time Olympic gold medalist trained alongside one another at the University of Michigan.
"I saw a real lack of preparation" from Phelps, Clary told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
"Basically, he was a swimmer that didn’t want to be there. They can talk about all of these goals and plans and preparation they have. I saw it. I know. It’s different. And I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time."
Clary spent three years as a swimmer at Michigan, where Phelps also trained and took classes from 2005 to 2008. Clary was named the NCAA swimmer of the year in 2009 and also broke Phelps' U.S. record in the 400 individual medley the same year.
But Phelps is the one with all the Olympic medals, including a record eight golds won at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Clary, who prides himself on his own work ethic, did not qualify for those Games.
"The fact that he doesn’t have to work as hard to get that done, it’s a real shame," Clary said. “I think it’s too bad. You see that all too often, where you get athletes that are incredibly talented that really take it for granted. I think the things he could have done if he’d worked as hard as I do would have been even more incredible than what he has pulled off."
But, he added, "the fact that I know I work harder than he does makes me appreciate every little goal and every little gain that I make."
Clary did qualify for a pair of events for the upcoming London Games, the 200 backstroke and the 200 butterfly. In the latter event, Clary finished second to Phelps at the U.S. qualifier, which means he will have another shot at his rival, uh, teammate, with the entire world watching.
"The day that it happens, when I finally beat him, is going to be a huge deal in my mind because it would be complete satisfaction," Clary said of Phelps, who qualified for eight Olympic events and will be competing in seven. "And the only thing that would be better than that is breaking the world record."
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