Phelps loses 100 free, 100 back
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Two races, two losses for Michael Phelps.
The 14-time Olympic gold medalist was beaten in the 100-meter freestyle and 100 backstroke Sunday night at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix.
Phelps finished second behind defending world champion Brent Hayden of Canada in the 100 free, which featured seven Olympians among the nine finalists. Hayden, the leading qualifier, touched in 48.44 seconds. Phelps, swimming in lane 8, clocked 48.87.
Phelps lost the 100 back to Olympic teammate Ryan Lochte, who went out fast and held on in 54.15 to complete a sweep of the backstroke events. Phelps touched second in 54.31.
Lochte relished the victory over his friend and rival.
"I always like to get a little kick in there," he said, smiling. "Anyone is beatable. It's just a matter of time and where."
Phelps went 2 for 4 in his second competition since returning from a three-month suspension by USA Swimming after a photo of him using a marijuana pipe surfaced. He won the 200 butterfly on Friday and the 400 free Saturday.
"I'm ready to go home and sleep in my own bed," said Phelps, who arrived in Northern California direct from three weeks of altitude training in Colorado. "For me, it's about seeing where we are and where we have to improve on. The wins are going to be more down the road."
Coming up for Phelps is a final tuneup meet in Montreal next weekend before the U.S. nationals in Indianapolis on July 7-11. That's where the team for the world championships in Rome will be selected.
"He always likes to win, but I think he made some progress in the 100 free and his time was pretty good in the 100 back," Phelps' coach Bob Bowman said. "The headline tomorrow is 'Phelps loses twice,' but it's something he just has to live with."
The same thing happened to Phelps in his comeback meet at Charlotte, N.C.
He also lost the 100 free there, but with a worse time than in Santa Clara. He was beaten in the 100 back, too, with a time that was faster than this weekend.
Phelps set the American record of 47.51 in the 100 free as part of the victorious U.S. relay at the Beijing Olympics, where he won a record eight gold medals.
Hayden didn't advance out of the semifinals in Beijing.
"I wasn't on my game," he said. "I'm not holding any regrets."
Sunday's result was a reversal of their 2007 race in Santa Clara. That's when Hayden led with 15 meters to go before Phelps sprinted past him to win.
"Anytime I get a chance to race Michael it's exciting," said Hayden, who will defend his title at next month's world meet in Rome. "It would be awesome to see him in the 100 at world championships."
Hayden offered a bit of advice to Phelps, who is focusing on shorter distances in the push toward his last Olympics in 2012.
"He's not really much of a sprinter," Hayden said. "Work on that front-end speed. Everyone knows he's got the fastest back-end of that race."
Lochte schooled Phelps in the backstroke, then had the last laugh when he appeared on the awards podium wearing an old-fashioned white bikini-style suit.
"This is my favorite suit," said Lochte, who wore a John Travolta-style white suit to last year's Golden Goggle awards. "It might be a little see-through."
Lochte zoomed to the lead in the 100 back with a leading 54.15 split despite knowing what was coming. Phelps' split was 54.31.
"It was my last race," he said. "I knew it was going to hurt either way, so I just wanted to go out fast."
Lochte finished fourth in the 100 free. He also won the 200 back and the 400 individual medley during the four-day meet.
Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe finished off a strong meet by winning the 200 backstroke with the world's fastest time this year.
She was timed in 2:06.99, a meet record, but well off her world mark of 2:05.24 that earned a gold medal in Beijing.
Canadians won two other events, with Brian Johns taking the 200 IM and Ryan Cochrane the 1,500 free. Aussie Olympian Brenton Rickard won the 200 breaststroke.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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