Phelps pushed to limit, world record
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 6:05 pm
By: By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Ryan Lochte put a scare into Michael Phelps in their first race together at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, a thrilling showdown that saw both of them go under world-record time.
Rivals in the pool and friends out of it, Lochte and Phelps will go at it again today in the same preliminary heat of the 200-meter freestyle, in which Phelps owns the world record.
“I always feel like he’s beatable,” Lochte said after narrowly losing to Phelps in the 400 individual medley Sunday night. “He’s just a regular person.”
Phelps set a world record on the opening night of the eight-day trials, winning in four minutes, 51/2 seconds and bettering his old mark set during last year’s world championships in Australia.
“I knew the last 50 was going to be a dogfight to the finish,” he said. “Whoever was going to go farther off that last wall underwater was going to win the race. I remember looking over at him and I was saying to myself, ‘I want to stay under farther than he does,’ and it worked out.”
Lochte also dipped under Phelps’ old mark, but his time of 4:06.08 was only good enough for second.
“It was my best time, but I hate to lose,” he said.
Phelps dropped the 100 backstroke from today’s schedule, eliminating the possibility of a second showdown in the same day with Lochte.
Instead, world record-holder Aaron Peirsol and Lochte will be the top contenders in the prelims.
The trials began on a sizzling note, with Phelps’ and Lochte’s performances creating cheers from the fans and chills that rippled among the 1,250 swimmers competing for 52 spots on the Olympic team.
“The only risk to having Michael pushed that hard is to my heart,” Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman said jokingly.
Not long after, Katie Hoff matched her former North Baltimore teammate in the 400 IM, taking down the women’s world mark in 4:31.12.
“It lights everybody’s fire,” said Mark Schubert, coach and general manager of the U.S. national team. “We’re going to have a real fun rest of the week.”
Hoff went under world-record pace on the breaststroke leg and held on with her freestyle to beat Stephanie Rice’s mark of 4:31.46, set in March at the Australian Olympic trials.
“Watching that race was definitely inspiring,” she said about seeing Phelps win. “That was one of the fastest races I’ve ever seen. Those two really pushed each other. It gave me chills and got me psyched up for my race.”
Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Beisel made quite a splash at her first trials, finishing second to Hoff in 4:32.87 to lock up an expected trip to China.
Beisel returns to action today in the 100 back prelims, where world record-holder Natalie Coughlin will swim her first race of the trials.
Hoff and rival Kate Ziegler meet for the first time when they go in separate heats of the 400 free.
American record holder Jessica Hardy, 2000 Olympian Megan Jendrick, and ’04 Olympian Tara Kirk headline the women’s 100 breaststroke prelims.
Like Phelps, Hoff also was wearing the revolutionary Speedo LZR Racer suit, which has been worn for 40 of the 44 world marks set since it was unveiled in mid-February.
“It definitely gave me a few tenths,” Phelps said. “At the end, when I was getting a little tired, the suit gave me a little extra edge.”
Larsen Jensen, also wearing the LZR, set an American mark in the 400 freestyle in a blanket race to the wall with previous record holder Peter Vanderkaay and Erik Vendt.
Jensen’s time of 3:43.53 topped Vanderkaay’s mark of 3:43.82, set last month in California. Vanderkaay also went lower, touching second in 3:43.73.
Brendan Hansen just missed another world record in the 100 breaststroke semifinals, advancing to Monday’s final in 59.24. He holds the mark of 59.13, and nodded his head confidently when he looked toward the scoreboard.
“The only way I was going to get noticed tonight was if I broke a world record,” he said. “I will save that for tomorrow night.”
NCAA champion Christine Magnuson was top qualifier in the semis of the 100 fly in 57.50 — less than a second off Inge de Bruijn’s 8-year-old world record.
“Tomorrow is going to be tough,” she said. “Rachel Komisarz is going to come out and a lot of girls out there can all go 57 too, so it’s definitely going to be a fight.”