LONDON -- In an era in which athletes are coached to speak in cliche, Tyler Clary set off a firestorm in the swimming world by offering a blunt opinion about Michael Phelps, the man with more gold medals than anyone in Olympic history.
Clary trained with Phelps for a year at the University of Michigan. On the eve of the Olympics, Clary told his hometown newspaper that the hype surrounding Phelps' work ethic does not square with reality.
"I saw a real lack of preparation," Clary told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
He added: "I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time."
Clary apologized to Phelps, and to the entire U.S. team for the distraction, but the results in the pool speak louder than any words. So Clary, in the one and only event in which he will compete against Phelps, posted a faster time than Phelps in Monday's qualifying heats of the 200-meter butterfly.
"It's only prelims," Clary said. "It doesn't matter. Everybody has their own way of playing the prelims. Some people show all their cards. Some don't."