Swimming: Phelps ready to take Olympic spotlight

Posted at 07/31/12 3:23 PM

LONDON - Michael Phelps is poised to scale the final mountain he needs to reach the peak of Olympic immortality when the fourth day of the Olympic swimming competition takes place on Tuesday.

After a slow start to the London Games, Phelps finally gets his chance to reclaim the spotlight and claim one of the few records that he has not yet captured.

The American is the overwhelming favorite to win Tuesday's 200 meters butterfly final, an event he has dominated for the past decade.

If he does win, he will become the first male swimmer to win gold in the same individual event at three successive Olympics, a feat that has proved beyond all the great male swimmers who have come before him.

If he wins any medal, he will equal Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record tally of 18 Olympic medals but probably not for long.

Within an hour of the butterfly final, Phelps should be diving back in the pool for the 4x200 freestyle relay, a race the U.S. are heavily favored to win that would give him the outright record.

Chinese teenager Ye Shiwen could become the first female swimmer to win two golds in London when she lines up on the blocks for the 200 individual medley final.

The 16-year-old shattered the world record to win the 400 medley on Saturday and qualified fastest for the final despite taking her foot off the gas in the final lap.

Missy Franklin will also be chasing her second gold, and third medal overall, when she lines up for the 200 freestyle final.

The American teenager only qualified in eighth place in Monday's semi-finals but was conserving her energy for the 100 backstroke final, which she won.

Australia's Bronte Barratt qualified just ahead of American Allison Schmitt and Camille Muffat of France, the gold medalist in the 400 free.

Tuesday's program also features the heats and semi-finals of the men's 100 freestyle, one of the blue-riband events of the swimming competition.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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