Olympic swimmer Tyler Clary verbally goes after Michael Phelps

Clary at the U.S. swim trials in Omaha last month. (US Presswire)

Who said the only swimming rivalry had to be between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte?

The guy seen as the next great American swimmer, the one who's probably third-best in the country now, Tyler Clary, recently spoke of Phelps' poor work ethic when the two shared time and training together at the University of Michigan.

This isn't some veiled quip with a possible reference to Phelps. Clary undresses the most famous American swimmer.

The Press-Enterprise's Jim Alexander spoke with Clary recently, and on Monday filed a blog/column on Clary's feelings toward Phelps. Clary didn't exactly have a mentor/protege relationship. In fact, considering Clary has a lot still to prove -- 2012 is his first Olympics -- these comments are pretty surprising.

“I saw a real lack of preparation (from) him,” Clary said during an interview at the pool here where he trains. "Basically, he was a swimmer that didn’t want to be there. They can talk about all of these goals and plans and preparation they have. I saw it. I know. It’s different. And I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time.
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Yeah, that's quite a takedown. Now, to be fair to the situation, it's not like he's bringing this up out of the blue. The whole deal/storyline with Phelps and the London Games (outside of the Lochte stuff) circles around it being his final Olympics and how he almost never went for more golds. Phelps has been open about his lazy years following the '08 Games, so Clary's not breaking new ground here. Phelps hasn't hidden from his slacker ways and how it almost cost him one more Olympic blitz.

Still, Clary is going after Phelps, and that's something we haven't seen from any other competitor on the record to this point. Pretty big words, too. If you think the quote above was a fleeting thought, think again. Here's more:

“I’ve always called myself more of a blue-collar worker, as far as swimming goes,” Clary said. “I work my (butt) off all the time. That’s not to say that everybody else doesn’t. But the fact that I know I work harder than he does makes me appreciate every little goal and every little gain that I make.

“And the day that it happens, when I finally beat him, is going to be a huge deal in my mind, because it would be complete satisfaction. And the only thing that would be better than that is breaking the world record.”

It's fair to say Clary has become obsessed with the idea of beating Phelps. He'll have one more chance to beat him in an organized setting. 

Oh, and there's still more. I don't want to pilfer half of Alexander's column from him, so click the link. Clary is without filter and basically downplays Phelps' public image, voicing frustration over Phelps' natural ability and how badly it hurts that he, Clary, busts hump day in and day out and doesn't have nearly the prestige to show for it.

He's ticked Phelps has so much natural talent and not nearly the work ethic. It reads equal parts jealousy and annoyance.

Clary was bested by Phelps in the 200-meter butterfly and the 400-meter individual medley -- which Clary holds the American record for, in yards -- at the swim trials in Omaha. He will swim in the 200 fly and 200-meter backstroke in London, going head-to-head against Phelps in the fly.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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