Following two second place finishes last weekend at the Charlotte Grand Prix event, 14-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps struggled even more today at the Miami Swim Nationals, nearly drowning to death after diving into the pool for 200-meter butterfly qualifying.
When the gun sounded to start his heat, Phelps dove into the pool and then didn't resurface for several seconds. He then appeared at the top of the water, wildly flailing and gasping for air, before dropping below the top of the water again. Lifeguards and paramedics then dove into the pool and pulled Phelps out, where mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was conducted.
"All athletes go through slumps," said Gary Mourning, Phelps' coach. "Just look at Albert Pujols. The London Olympics are still two months away, so I am fully confident that Michael will be back in form by then."
Phelps spoke to reporters briefly from his hospital bed at University of Miami hospital.
"I just need to focus on the fundamentals," he said. "You know, not swallowing water, moving my arms and legs in a controlled manner so I don't fall to the bottom, that sort of thing. I'll get through it."
Phelps says he may swim with inflatable water wings in his next event or straddle a water noodle, "just to help me get through the drowning phase of my slump."
U.S. Olympic Team officials say they are not concerned with Phelps' struggles.
"We want our athletes peaking for the Games, not two months before the Olympics," said USOC chairman Larry Probst. "Most people forget this, but before the 1988 Olympics, Greg Louganis was in such a bad slump that he had done a cannonball off the back of the high-dive platform onto the cement. Two weeks later, he won two golds."