Phelps wins two more races at U.S. trials

Posted: Tuesday, April 05, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS — Two more races, two more wins, and Michael Phelps finally had enough.

Phelps overtook American record holder Jason Lezak, who faded at the finish, and won the 100-meter freestyle in 49 seconds flat Monday night. It was the fastest he has ever swum that event.

About a half-hour later, he was back in the pool and easily won the 200 individual medley in 1 minute, 57.44 seconds for his fifth and final victory in the U.S. world championship trials at the Indiana University Natatorium.

''I'm done for the week,'' said Phelps, who then withdrew from the 200 backstroke he was scheduled to race on Tuesday. ''I'm starting to get back into training now and focusing on Montreal.''

The top two finishers in each event automatically qualified for the world championships in Montreal this summer. Thge 19-year-old Phelps also won the 100 butterfly and the 200 and 400 freestyles. With the possibility of three relays, he could swim in as many as eight events in Montreal, the same number he competed in last year at the Olympics in Athens, where he won six gold medals and two bronzes.

''We're going to be talking about that, to finalize the schedule,'' he said of his plans for the July 24-31 meet in Montreal. ''We wanted to come in here to have a wide variety of options, to see what we could do. Definitely, we have a lot of things to choose from.

''I didn't know what kind of shape I was going to be in coming into this, but definitely after the week of work it was training itself, being able to come in here and swim against these guys and try to put up some fast times,'' Phelps said. ''It was pretty much like a practice swim itself.''

Lezak earlier won the 50 freestyle to continue his streak of qualifying for every U.S. team in major international competition since the 2000 Olympics.

Ten years older than Phelps, Lezak set the American record of 48.17 seconds in the 100 freestyle two years ago. He was the fastest in Monday morning's preliminaries at 49.55 and led the final heat at the 50-meter turn, when Phelps was seventh.

But, just as he did Sunday night in overtaking world record-holder Ian Crocker in the 100 butterfly, Phelps came on strong and caught Lezak at the finish, touching the wall first by .09 second.

''It looked like I died. I faded big time,'' Lezak said. ''I took it out hard and didn't have the proper training to finish. I took time off (after the Olympics) and never got back into the full training cycle until about six weeks before the meet, so it wasn't enough.''

He said it wasn't a matter of race strategy.

''I always do my own thing,'' Lezak said. ''I'm aware of what my competition does. I just went out and did my race and couldn't finish it at the end.''

In the 200 IM, in which Phelps holds the world record of 1:55.94, he finished almost a second ahead of Ryan Lochte and almost 3 seconds ahead of third-place Eric Shanteau.

''The splits were pretty good,'' Phelps said. ''My breaststroke was surprisingly good for not really training. I was two or three-tenths off my world record split in the breaststroke. There are little things I can work on and hopefully put something together this summer.''

Crocker also qualified for the world championships on Monday without swimming a stroke.

At the time he lost to Phelps in the 100 butterfly on Sunday, only the winner of each event was guaranteed a spot on the U.S. team. But USA Swimming, the sport's governing body in the United States, announced before Monday's events that the second-place finishers also would be added to the team.

The ruling also gave a spot on the team to Kaitlin Sandeno, who won three medals at Athens but finished second in the 400 IM on Sunday.

In Monday's other final events, Mary Descenza won the women's 200 butterfly, and Margaret Hoelzer took the 200 backstroke. In the preliminaries, Christopher Thompson was the fast qualifier in the men's 1,500 freestyle, and Laura Conway was fastest in the women's 800 freestyle. The finals in those events will be Tuesday night.

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