Phelps adds 1 to his record collection

He sets American mark in 100-meter butterfly for 3rd overall record at meet

Swimming

August 17, 2002|By Sharon Robb | Sharon Robb,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Teen-ager Michael Phelps, the youngest member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, is already rethinking his goals for the Aug. 24-29 Pan Pacific Championships and next two years leading up to the 2004 Olympic trials.

The 17-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club closed out an amazing week with his second American record in five days at the Phillips 66 Summer National Swimming Championships last night.

The Rodgers Forge resident came from behind to not only knock off favorite Ian Crocker, but also break his American record in the 100-meter butterfly on Day 5 of the six-day outdoor meet. Phelps turned it on in the final 50 meters to overtake Crocker, 19, of Portland, Maine, to win in 51.88 seconds and break Crocker's American record of 52.25. Crocker was second in 52.30.

"I pretty much did everything I wanted to do this week," Phelps said. "I wanted the world record in the 200 IM and wanted to break my 200 butterfly record, but I can't be too upset. This has been great. Now it's time to go back to the drawing board and set some new goals. I am always motivated by new goals. I am still motivated by not medaling at the 2000 Olympics."

The versatile Phelps swam in five events in five days, winning four of them with one world record in the 400-meter individual medley and two American-record performances in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly.

Phelps flirted with the world record in the 200-meter individual medley and missed it by 0.6 of a second before setting the American record of 1:58.68, the second-fastest time ever.

Phelps, who will be a senior at Towson High School, leaves tomorrow morning for Yokohama, Japan, site of the Pan Pacific Championships that will pit the U.S. team against the strong Australian team.

"He is probably the best swimmer in America right now," said Erik Vendt, who finished second to Phelps in the 400 IM.

Phelps, the youngest member of the Olympic team at 15 and youngest male Olympian since 1932, gave up a college scholarship to turn pro and signed with Speedo last season. He was also the youngest male, at 15 years, 9 months, to set a world record in the 200 butterfly. He lowered it at the 2001 World Championships to 1:54.58.

"It used to be, `The 15-year-old Michael Phelps,' then I was `The 16-year-old Michael Phelps,' now I'm `The 17-year-old Michael Phelps,' so I guess I am progressing," Phelps said with a wide grin.

Mount St. Joseph graduate Tommy Hannan, an Olympian in 2000, was third in the 100 butterfly in 53.05, faster than his morning qualifying prelim time of 53.74. Hannan, of Circle C Swimming, also attended the University of Texas.

Natalie Coughlin, 19, of California Aquatics won her fifth event of the meet, breaking the American record in the 200-meter backstroke. Coughlin won in 2:08.53, breaking the oldest women's American record in the books. Betsy Mitchell of Longhorn Aquatics held the previous American mark of 2:08.60.

Sharon Robb is a reporter for the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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