Phelps finishes 2nd in Grand Prix event

200 butterfly mark stands, but he loses to Malchow


May 21, 2001|By Steve Rom | Steve Rom,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - This may be his race, but it's just not his pool.

Michael Phelps returned to the University of Michigan's Canham Natatorium to try to defend his 200-meter butterfly world record yesterday in the third and final day of the Domino's Swim Classic, the first of five USA Swim Grand Prix events this summer.

Almost one year ago, Phelps, the 15-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, watched in awe as Tom Malchow beat him by half a pool length.

This time it was only by two body lengths.

Phelps came in second to his 2000 Olympic teammate in 2 minutes and 0.16 seconds, 5.24 seconds off the world mark he set in March at the U.S. Nationals. Malchow, in the pool he swam in for four years as a member of the Michigan team, won it in 1:55.66 for his Club Wolverine.

"I'm disappointed," Phelps said. "There's no excuse for how I swam. I just got destroyed the last 100 [meters]."

Malchow opened a six-inch lead at the first breath and extended that to about a body length after 50 meters. Phelps' style is to start conservative and then make his move during the last half of the race, but it didn't happen.

"I think he figured that when he came off that third wall, it was over," said Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach.

Phelps and Malchow, the top two swimmers in the world in the 200 butterfly, were participating in this weekend's event to help prepare for the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, in July.

Phelps, who is a sophomore at Towson High, swam in nine races (including preliminaries and finals) the previous two days before facing Malchow, who swam in three races up to that point.

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