ROME, July 31—Serbian Milorad Cavic, who earlier this week claimed a timing error cost him a victory against Michael Phelps in last year’s photo-finish Olympic 100-meter butterfly, said he would buy Phelps a faster suit for Saturday’s 100 fly final if Phelps couldn’t get one for free.
Cavic, who posted the fastest qualifying time in Friday’s morning heats (50.56) at the swimming world championships, said it was a media-generated “lie” that Phelps had no choice but to swim in his old LZR suit from Speedo, which is considered slower than the more recent high-tech models.
Cavic said Phelps should consider wearing Cavic’s preferred suit — the Arena X-Glide — or the other recently hyped suit, the Jaked01.
“I’m just saying, if Michael wants an Arena, he just has to say it and I guarantee they will give one to him,” said Cavic, who won the 50 fly title here. “If he wants a Jaked and they don’t want to give it to him free, then I will buy it for him.
“I think in the media, it’s been portrayed that he has no options,” Cavic added. “He does. It’s a complete lie. I know he’s making a lot of money from Speedo … Michael Phelps has plenty of money. Who knows whatever it is. I think it’s loyalty. He’s very gracious for everything Speed has done for him. But free will is a gift with a price tag, and his choices later on will affect him.”
Cavic said he would actually prefer to race Phelps in briefs, but knew that could not happen in this era of superfast suits.
“[It] would actually be a dream of mine, the whole final, everybody swimming in briefs,” he said.
Phelps, who tied with fellow American Tyler McGill for the second-fastest qualifying time (50.90), did not comment after his swim, but his coach, Bob Bowman, was informed of Cavic’s remarks.
“I’m not amused by it,” Bowman said. Cavic “is a very good swimmer, a super-talented swimmer. He can say what he wants. Michael usually lets his swimming do the talking, and we’ll know by tomorrow night. The key is how close Michael can be in the first 50.”
Indeed, in Friday’s heats, Phelps went out slowly, as is his custom, touching the wall in eighth place at the 50 mark.
Cavic, known for going out much faster, said the key for him would be to get a big lead and hanging on.
“Everybody knows Michael Phelps is a back-half swimmer,” said Cavic, who used to train in Islamorada, Fla., under Mike Bottom but after last year’s Summer Games moved to Italy. “He doesn’t have a great deal of speed, but he has a way of coming home … I know he’s coming. There’s no point in even looking; Michael Phelps is right there.”
Earlier in the week, Cavic said he wouldn’t feel bad about wearing a more technically advanced suit than Phelps since a technical error, he claimed, had done him in during the Olympics. Cavic said he hit the wall before Phelps but didn’t press hard enough on the touch pad.
Torres Just Misses 50 Fly Semis
Dara Torres, 42, failed to advance in the heats of the 50 butterfly, missing a spot in Saturday’s semifinals by one spot and .05 seconds. Her time of 26.41 was the 17th best of the morning.
Sweden’s Therese Alshammar topped the heats in a world-championship record of 25.44 and American Christine Magnuson (26.06) posted the ninth-fastest time.
Torres, who is sponsored by Speedo, wore her LZR suit. She set the American record (25.50) in the event earlier this year.
Torres, who will have surgery on her arthritic left knee after the championships, said the knee has been bothering her. She did not address her suit choice.
“The 50 is an event where you need to use your legs a lot, especially on the start [and] on the kick,” Torres said. “And because I haven’t been able to do a lot of training with my knee, both in the water and out of the water, it’s obviously affected me for these races. The 50 fly was a luxury event. I’m really focused on the 50 free.”
Towson’s Pelton Advances
Elizabeth Pelton, 15, posted the seventh-best time of the morning in the 200 backstroke (2:09.12), easily qualifying for the semifinals in her last individual event. Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry topped the field with her a championship-record time of 2:06.72. That topped the ’07 record of 2:07.16 set by American Margaret Hoelzer.
“I took it a little easy on the first 100,” Pelton said. “I just wanted to bring it home fast.”
Cielo Tops 50 Heats
Hours after winning the world title in the 100 freestyle and setting a world record, Brazil’s Cesar Cielo swam the fastest time in the 50 free heats, touching the wall in 21.37, ahead of Sweden’s Stefan Nystrand (21.56) and France’s Fred Bousquet (21.63).
American Nathan Adrian posted the fifth-fastest time (21.68) and Cullen Jones, the American record holder, was 10th (21.88). Jones said he had a stomach virus two days ago.
“In that swim I felt a little week,” Jones said. “It felt like my arms were more going through the water rather than pulling it.”