Phelps a double winner at U.S. Summer Nationals
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.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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