Phelps wins first competitive race since breaking wrist bone
ATLANTA -- Michael Phelps won his first competitive race since breaking a bone in his wrist in October, taking the 200-yard freestyle at the U.S. short-course national championships Friday night.
He later led off the victorious 800 free relay that broke the American and U.S. Open records.
"So far, I've done nothing but exceed my expectations," he said.
Phelps went 0-for-2 on Thursday night, losing to rival Ryan Lochte's American record in the 200 individual medley and finishing second with his club team in a relay.
Lochte won the 400 IM on Friday and took second in the 100 breaststroke at the first short-course nationals held since 1991.
The races, swum in yards instead of Olympic meters, are in a 25-yard pool at Georgia Tech, site of the 1996 Olympic swimming competition. It's half the size of the pool to be used in next year's Beijing Games.
The men's 200 free was nearly an all-Club Wolverine final, with five of the eight swimmers from the Michigan-based team. Phelps and his training partners led a sweep of the top three places. Peter Vanderkaay was second and Chris DeJong third.
Vanderkaay briefly pulled ahead of Phelps going into the final 50 yards before Phelps restored order and won in 1 minute, 32.13 seconds, second-fastest by an American. Vanderkaay was timed in 1:32.26.
"I'm definitely in the right direction to where I want to be," Phelps said.
Phelps, Vanderkaay, Davis Tarwater and DeJong teamed for a 5.49-second win in the relay. Their time of 6:12.43 lowered the American mark of 6:17.92 set in March by a Stanford team. It also bettered the U.S. Open record of 6:14.14 by Arizona.
"Put four guys together that swam great legs. We were all able to get fired up for that race," Phelps said.
He didn't swim the 400 IM, where he owns the American record. Lochte was under that mark through the first 300 yards before slowing on the freestyle portion.
Still, he beat Eric Shanteau by 5.42 seconds, touching first in 3:37.88. The victory kept Lochte perfect through three races at the meet that ends Saturday.
"I wanted to break the record, but that was my best time, so I'm happy," he said.
Lochte lost the 100 breaststroke to fellow Olympian Mark Gangloff, who touched in 53.05 seconds to Lochte's 53.27.
Natalie Coughlin added the 100 backstroke title to her win in Thursday's 50 free, where she set an American record.
Rachel Komisarz surged past Coughlin in the final 25 yards of the 100 butterfly to upset the five-time Olympic medalist. Komisarz, who turns 31 next week, hit the wall in 50.10 seconds. Coughlin was under her own American record pace early in the race before finishing in 50.23.
"That was a really good time for me," she said. "With all I've done the last few weeks, my expectations were very low."
Like many Olympians, Coughlin rarely swims short-course races. This meet is her first at 25 yards since January.
"I'm a little shaky and rough at the edges," she said.
Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce won the 200 free.
Kathleen Hersey won the 400 individual medley by nearly two seconds over Olympian Kaitlin Sandeno. The winning time of 4:04.19 made the 17-year-old Atlanta swimmer the fifth-fastest in history. Hersey won four golds at this year's Pan American Games.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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