Phelps wins, Peirsol upset in US nationals

admin Contributor
Font Size:

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Michael Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle at the U.S. national championships, then came back less than an hour later to win the 200 butterfly on Wednesday night.

Phelps led all the way in the 200 free and touched in 1 minute, 45.61 seconds — fastest in the world this year — to earn a spot on the U.S. team for the Pan Pacific championships later this month.

“Still slower than I want to be,” the Olympic champion said. “I wanted to step on it in the first 100, then hopefully hold them off coming home.”

Ryan Lochte finished second in 1:47.78, the second-quickest time in the world. It was a two-man race to the finish between the Olympic teammates.

Peter Vanderkaay, the Olympic bronze medalist, was third in 1:46.84.

Phelps was last off the blocks in the 200 fly, but he led all the way again and easily won despite what he called “probably the worst 200 fly I’ve swum in my life in terms of strokes and turns.”

He touched in 1:56.00 — 4.49 seconds slower than his world-record time at last year’s world championships in Rome.

“I didn’t feel good at all,” he said. “I chopped two of my walls. It’s a lot of small things. It’s going to come back to being in shape.”

Second-place Mark Dylla finished well back in 1:57.08, and Tyler Clary was third.

Phelps hasn’t lost the 200 fly since 2002, and it’s special to him.

“This is the first race I made the international scene in,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I secured a win. That’s my race.”

World recordholder Aaron Peirsol was upset in the 100 backstroke, narrowly losing to David Plummer, a 24-year-old swimmer from Minnetonka, Minn., who won the first national title of his career.

“It makes me think I can be the best in the world one day, and that’s every swimmer’s dream,” he said. “You can do it from anywhere. You don’t have to train next to the best in the world to be the best in the world.”

Peirsol still earned a spot on the Pan Pacs team. He had won the event at every nationals he had competed in since 2000. He lost the same event to Thoman at the Charlotte UltraSwim in May.

“I was happy for Dave. He’s been swimming a long time,” Peirsol said. “Races like that can go either way.”

Nick Thoman led at the turn, Peirsol was second and Plummer third. Plummer rallied down the stretch and touched first in 53.60 seconds. Peirsol was timed in 53.63, with Thoman clocking 53.78.

“I’m not sure that fazes me considering how close it was. David was due,” Peirsol said. “I swam a fine race.”

Natalie Coughlin won the 100 backstroke in her first major competition since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She finished in 1:00.14, fending off a trio of teenagers. Melissa Franklin, 15, was second in 1:00.39. Rachel Bootsma and Olympian Elizabeth Pelton, both 16, were third and fourth.

Coughlin has won the event in every nationals she’s competed in since 2001.

Olympian Allison Schmitt edged Dana Vollmer by less than a tenth of a second in the 200 freestyle. Schmitt reached the wall in 1:56.84, with Vollmer right behind in 1:56.93. Katie Hoff was third in 1:57.50.