Washington, December 25 (ANI): Ace swimmer Michael Phelps might have been branded "Golden Olympian" after he created history by winning the most gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, but his coach Bob Bowman feels that he may not be as invincible when he competes at the national and world championships in the near future.
"I would keep expectations fairly low. Not that he won't be able to swim well, but it's going to be what it is," USA Today quoted Bowman as saying.
Phelps took several months off after the Beijing Games. He spent that time going to appearances and sponsor promotions and vacationing.
Bowman, who gave him a February 1 deadline for resuming practice, said that the time off could mean that Phelps would not be in peak form during the summer nationals, scheduled July 7-11 in Indianapolis, or at the world championships at the end of July in Rome.
"We're basically going to take this whole year to try to get him to a point where he can really get into serious training in the fall of 2009," he said.
He even said that Phelps might be beat in the coming months.
"I think it's good for him. If he's taken down a peg or two, it wouldn't kill him. It would give me some ammunition in practice," he said.
It may be worth noticing here that Phelps took time off after winning six golds and two bronze medals at the 2004 Olympics, and that he ended up failing to qualify for the 400-meter freestyle final and finishing seventh in the 100-meter freestyle final at the 2005 world championships.
Phelps often credits the 2005 experience with driving him through arduous training sessions before the 2008 Olympics.
Bowman believes that the swimmer's performance next summer may give him similar.
"The volume of training would be less, which I think is good," said Bowman, who expects Phelps' peak training weeks if he decides to stick with sprint distances to top out at 50,000 meters (31 miles), down from the 80,000 meters (49.7 miles) he was doing before Beijing.
"But the quality of it would be much higher and much consistently higher. It wouldn't be one fast thing on the end of a set. It might be eight fast things," he added.
While discussing about some of the areas where Phelps really need to work hard, Bowman said: "Michael's not a pure sprinter. Michael doesn't have natural speed like those guys do."
Noting that swimmers make seven turns in 400 IM and just one in 100-meter races, Bowman said that Phelps will have to develop an edge in areas like at the start, in his stroke and at the finish.
"I think he wants to swim the sprints, but we'll see how it works out. He might be wishing for some of that 400 IM training," he said. (ANI)