Published July 28, 2012
With the 2012 Summer Olympics underway on Day 1, American swimmer Michael Phelps avoided a near massive disaster in the Men's 400-meter IM qualifying early Saturday morning. Ryan Lochte, Phelps' fellow American multi-gold contender in the pool, finished third in qualifying, but Phelps almost missed being in the field for the final.
Phelps finished the qualifying in eighth place, just .08 seconds faster than the ninth-place swimmer and the cut line. If Phelps had failed to qualify, it would have been one of the most shocking Olympic moments of his career.
"When I saw the time, I was like, ‘Oh, it is going to be a challenge [making the final],'" Phelps told the media after the race. "That one didn't feel too good. The only thing that matters is just getting a spot in [the final]. You can't win the gold medal from the morning."
Phelps trailed for much of the race, but overtook Hungarian swimmer Laszlo Cseh in the final 50 meters, touching the wall just before Cseh and edging him for the final spot in the finals. Cseh won silver in the event in Beijing, and was expected to be a medal contender in London.
Meanwhile, medal contender Park Tae-Hwan of South Korea was disqualified after winning his heat, though review found little evidence that he did anything to deserve the DQ. A challenge may be forthcoming for Park, who was considered a podium threat and won the 400m freestyle at the Beijing Olympics and 2011 World Championships.
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