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U.S. Swimmer Questions Phelps' Work Ethic

By Evan Pioch
|  Thursday, Jul 26, 2012  |  Updated 1:33 PM EDT
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Athletes to Watch: London 2012

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OMAHA, NE - JUNE 28: Michael Phelps with Tyler Clary after they competed in the championsip final of the Men's 200 m Butterflyduring Day Four of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 28, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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Peace seems to have been restored after U.S. swimmer Tyler Clary had some choice words about Michael Phelps’ work ethic in an interview with a California newspaper.

Clary was highly critical of Phelps’ preparation in the article in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, saying “I saw a real lack of preparation [from] him … I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time … the fact that he doesn’t have to work as hard to get that done, it’s a real shame.”

Who is Tyler Clary? The 23-year-old spent three years swimming at the University of Michigan (during which time he trained alongside Phelps). While a Wolverine, he was a three-time NCAA champion and 2009 NCAA Swimmer of the Year.

Since forgoing his final year of school to turn pro in 2010, he has won 10 major international competition medals, but none of them gold. Clary is a very consistent swimmer -- consistently placing behind Ryan Lochte. He raced against Lochte in the finals in nine of the 10 races he eventually medaled in, and Lochte beat him every single time. Clary finished second behind Lochte six times and third behind him three times.

Clary qualified for the 2012 Olympics in the 200-meter butterfly (finishing second behind Phelps) and the 200-meter backstroke (finish second behind Lochte). He holds the American record in the 400-meter individual medley, but failed to qualify after being beaten by both Phelps and Lochte.

Regardless of the reasoning behind Cleary’s comments -- possibly disappointment at failing to beat either Phelps or Lochte (ever) -- he has taken them back.

“Michael and I have spoken about it and we’re OK. He made it clear to me that there’s no hard feelings,” Clary told reporters recently.

Politics aside, Clary may have a valid point. Phelps admitted that after his record eight gold medals in Beijing he gained 25 pounds and “did nothing.” In an interview with Details Magazine he said, “I would go back for a week or two and then stop. I’d show up for dry-land practice and then just sneak out the back door.”

Phelps laughed off reporter’s questions about the incident after the air had been cleared -- “I think the biggest thing is right now people say whatever they want to, they do whatever they want to do … for me right now the only thing I’m worried about is myself and preparing myself to go out and represent my country … there’s nothing else that needs to be said about it.”

In the initial interview with the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Clary also said, “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.”

He had better hurry up. Phelps has announced he will be retiring after the Olympics this year.

On the other hand, “Lochte and Clary” could be the new “Phelps and Lochte” in four years.

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