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Phelps a double winner at U.S. Summer Nationals

8/3/2006

IRVINE, Calif. -- Michael Phelps was a double winner in the
U.S. Summer National swimming championships Wednesday night, and
threatened his world record in the 200-meter butterfly before
falling off the pace.

"The butterfly has been the stroke that has felt the best the
past two weeks," he said. "To come in and be so close, it's kind
of disappointing."

Phelps led all the way in the 200 fly and was 0.02 seconds under
his world-record pace after 100 meters. But he came apart on the
third lap, although he still beat Michigan training partner Davis
Tarwater by nearly 3 seconds.

Phelps won in 1 minute, 54.32 seconds.

"I haven't done a best time since 2003 in the 200 fly," he
said. "It's disappointing for me to be so close so many times and
not get there. I want to do a best time. That's my goal. By the end
of this week, we'd like to do a best time in my best event."

Tarwater finished in 1:57.00 and Daniel Medwed of the same North
Baltimore club where Phelps started was third.

About 45 minutes earlier, Phelps and his Club Wolverine
teammates, Klete Keller and Peter Vanderkaay, swept the top three
spots in the 200 freestyle. Ryan Lochte was fourth.

Phelps won in 1:45.63. Keller, the 400 free champion Tuesday,
was second in 1:46.62.

Phelps picked up his 29th and 30th national titles, tying him
with Ann Curtis for fifth on the career list.

He is 2-for-2 so far this week, having won the 400 individual
medley Tuesday despite being unhappy with his time. Phelps is
scheduled to swim four more races before the meet ends Saturday.

"I'm more satisfied with the two swims tonight than I was with
the one yesterday," he said.

The top three finishers earned spots on the U.S. team for the
Pan Pacific Championships later this month in Victoria, British
Columbia.

World-record holder Aaron Peirsol held off Randall Bal to win
the 100 backstroke in his hometown pool.

Peirsol touched in 53.38 seconds -- his second-best time behind
his world mark of 53.17 set last year. Bal finished in 53.91 and
Peter Marshall was third.

Bal led through 50 meters and was 0.2 seconds under Peirsol's
world-record pace, but Peirsol came off the wall faster and moved
out to the lead.

"Randall and I swim the race totally different. Randall's a
great front-halfer. If I can stay with him, my part is the back
half," said Peirsol, still gasping for air afterward. "I knew I
was in good position coming off that wall. When I started pumping
just a little more, I felt really good and I just kept going."

Natalie Coughlin, a five-time medalist in the Athens Olympics,
withstood the challenge of 17-year-old Katie Hoff to win the 200
freestyle.

Coughlin took the lead after 150 meters and won in 1:58.11.
Hoff, whose morning preliminary time erased Coughlin's meet record,
finished in 1:58.16. Dana Vollmer, a 2004 Olympian, was third.

Coughlin won't swim the 200 free at Pan Pacs, but she had to
Wednesday to try to earn a spot on the 800 free relay there. That
forced her to pass up her specialty, the 100 back, which she'll
return to in Canada.

"Since Teri McKeever, who's my coach, is going to be the head
coach at Pan Pacifics, I didn't want there to be any question of
putting me on the 800 free relay," Coughlin said. "I didn't want
there to be any favoritism or questions. Hopefully, I just secured
my spot on the 800 free relay."

Leila Vaziri, a senior-to-be at Indiana University, won the 100
backstroke in 1:01.69. Lauren English was second and Margaret
Hoelzer, a 2004 Olympian, third.