Phelps sets meet record at U.S. championships

200-meter butterfly time is 1 minute, 54.86 seconds

Swimming

August 15, 2002|By Sharon Robb | Sharon Robb,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - World-record holder Michael Phelps flirted with the world and American records before settling for a meet-record victory in the 200-meter butterfly yesterday at the U.S. national swimming championships.

Phelps, a 17-year-old Rodgers Forge resident, turned in the second-best time ever in the event (1 minute, 54.86 seconds), behind only the 1:54.58 that he recorded last year. He is the only swimmer in history to break 1:55 in the event, and he has done it three times.

A day after Natalie Coughlin smashed the world record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 59.58, Phelps said he wanted a world mark of his own.

"I wanted that world record bad," Phelps said. "I did everything in my power to do it but didn't have it in me tonight. That was my goal going into the meet. My coach and I agreed that my first 50 was a little too slow. I've got one more chance [to break the record this summer]."

Phelps will get that chance at the Pan Pacific Championships, Aug. 24-29, in Japan. His first victory was Monday in the 200 individual medley, an American record of 1:58.68. He said he has big plans for today's 400 IM along with Erik Vendt.

The pair waged an epic battle in the 400 IM earlier this year in the Janet Evans Invitational, posting the fastest times in the world this year.

Coughlin won her third title of the meet yesterday, taking the 200-meter freestyle in 1:58.20.

In the other women's finals, Haley Cope of Chico, Calif., held off a surging Jenny Thompson to win the 50-meter freestyle in 25.48, .07 ahead of Thompson.

The meet continues through Saturday at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex.

Sharon Robb is a reporter for the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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