OMAHA, Neb. – The United States is assembling an Olympic swimming team that Michael Phelps hardly recognizes.
Nearly halfway through the eight-day trials, the team bound for Rio next month has as many as 17 first-timers. Left in their wake so far are such stalwarts as Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Matt Grevers, Tyler Clary and Jessica Hardy.
Phelps, who turns 31 on Thursday, and teenager Katie Ledecky appear to be the only sure things at a meet described by Phelps as more pressure-packed than the Olympics.
Four years ago, Franklin was a bubbly teenager who became a star at the London Games, winning five medals, including four golds. But Franklin won’t be defending her gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke after finishing a stunning seventh in the final Tuesday night.