Michael Phelps wins 200 fly
IRVINE, Calif. -- Michael Phelps led all the way in winning the 200-meter butterfly at the Pan Pacific championships on Wednesday night to extend his eight-year dominance in the event.
The American touched in 1 minute, 54.11 seconds, fastest in the world this year. He finished a body length ahead of Aussie Nick D'Arcy, who was timed in 1:54.73 after coming into the final with the world's fastest time.
Takeshi Matsuda of Japan was third and China's Peng Wu fourth.
"The last 50 hurt," said Phelps, still breathing hard minutes after the race. "I was just like, 'Please, get to the wall.' I felt the splash of water in the lane next to me, and I was like, 'Please, don't get run down.' The fitness level is just not there."
Phelps was aiming at a time in the 1:53 range and was critical of his technique.
He may not be in the same form that earned him a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, but it was Phelps' 31st consecutive victory in a 200 fly final. He hasn't lost since American Tom Malchow beat him at the 2002 Pan Pacs.
"That was the race I really came on the scene in," he said. "I do like coming out and racing it."
American Ryan Lochte cruised to victory in the 200 freestyle with the fastest time in the world this year.
Lochte touched in 1:45.30 wearing a waist-to-knee "jammer" textile suit that was mandated earlier in the year. That was quicker than the 1:45.47 swum by world champion Paul Biedermann of Germany at the European championships earlier this month.
Lochte had a strong showing at the U.S. nationals earlier this month when he won three events, including beating Phelps for the first time in a long-course medley.
Asked if he is swimming the best of his career, Lochte said, "Maybe. I feel good, I've done the training. I'm just going to go back and keep doing what I'm doing."
Olympic silver medalist Park Tae-hwan of South Korea was second in 1:46.27. American Peter Vanderkaay, the bronze medalist in Beijing, was third in 1:46.65.
Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol of the U.S. won the 100 backstroke in 53.31, bettering his own meet record of 53.32 set four years ago. He took advantage of Lochte dropping out of the final after the morning preliminaries. Lochte and David Plummer were the fastest Americans and only two swimmers from each country make the finals, so that left Peirsol out.
Lochte only wanted to swim the 100 back once at this meet, so he scratched.
"I'll get him a beer when the meet is over," Peirsol said.
Peirsol was fourth at the turn and then poured it on down the stretch to win in his hometown pool. Junya Koga of Japan was second in 53.63. Ashley Delaney of Australia was third. Ryosuke Irie of Japan was fourth.
"No one will just leave me alone in that race," Peirsol said. "The world is getting very fast. I still love this race. It's just me trying to fend off 20 people instead of three, which isn't easy. I haven't really put up a competitive world time this year."
Cesar Cielo of Brazil won the 50 butterfly with the world's fastest time.
Cielo, the world and Olympic champion in the 50 free, touched in a meet-record 23.03 seconds. He defeated teammate Nicholas Santos, who was timed in 23.33.
"I'm not really a 50-meter butterflyer, but everything that's a 50 I find a way to go fast and tonight I found a way to go really fast," Cielo said. "It was a wonderful surprise."
Roland Schoeman of South Africa, aiming for the 2012 London Olympics, was third in 23.39 at age 30.
Geoff Huegill of Australia, at 31 the oldest man in the final, was fourth in 23.42. He lowered the meet record with a time of 23.27 in the morning preliminaries.
Huegill retired after the 2004 Athens Games but then began a comeback in 2007 by losing 99 pounds.
Americans Cullen Jones and Tim Phillips were fifth and seventh.
Emily Seebohm of Australia, who at 18 is 10 years younger than two-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin, rallied from third to win the 100 backstroke in 59.45. That lowered Coughlin's eight-year-old meet record of 59.72.
Aya Terakawa of Japan was second in 59.59 and Coughlin finished third in 59.70. The top three were the only women under one minute in the final.
"When I saw Natalie at 75 meters, I said, 'I can't let her win,'" said Seebohm, who had never before beaten Coughlin, who led at 50 meters when the Aussie was third.
Coughlin took an 18-month break after Beijing and only returned to training in January.
"I didn't think I was going to go under a minute at this meet. It gives me a lot of confidence going into the next couple years in that race," she said. "This is ahead of where I thought I'd be at the end of this summer. I'm looking forward to what lies ahead."
World champion Marieke Guehrer of Australia won the women's 50 fly in 25.99, tying the meet record set in the consolation final.
Seebohm finished second in 26.08. American Christine Magnuson was third in 26.33. Jessica Hardy of the U.S. was sixth on opening night of the year's biggest international swimming meet.
The U.S. went 1-2 in the women's 200 freestyle. Olympian Allison Schmitt won in 1 minute, 56.10 seconds -- second-fastest in the world this year -- and lowering the meet record that Morgan Scroggy had set in the morning heats. Scroggy finished in 1:57.13.
The American women controlled the 800 free, too. Kate Ziegler, world champion in 2005 and '07 who had fallen off in recent years, won in 8:21.59. Chloe Sutton was second in 8:24.51.
Ryan Cochrane of Canada won the 1,500 free in 14:49.47, fastest in the world. Chad La Tourette of the U.S. was second and Zhang Lin of China third. World and Olympic champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia was last in the timed final.
"I'm not going to cry about this. I saw it coming," he said. "I have not been very consistent and in the 1,500 if you're not consistent, it shows. A lot needs to be done."
World champion Jess Schipper of Australia edged American Teresa Crippen to win the 200 fly. Schipper, the Olympic bronze medalist, touched in 2:06.90 from lane seven. Crippen, who swam in lane four as the fastest qualifier, finished in 2:06.93.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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