Phelps finalizes spring program

Swimming

February 06, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Michael Phelps has finalized his program for USA Swimming's Spring Nationals, which will be held Feb. 10-14 in Orlando, Fla.

The 18-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club will compete in the 100- and 200-meter freestyles, the 200 backstroke, the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

His stiffest competition will come next Wednesday in the 100 freestyle, in which the field includes Jason Lezak and Neil Walker, the only Americans who went faster than him in 2003. The event won't be on his Olympic program, but he needs to continue to make a strong impression in it to secure a berth on the U.S. 400 relay team in Athens.

With collegians immersed in their NCAA schedules and Phelps coming off of what is considered the best non-Olympic year ever for a swimmer, he is easily the top seed in the other four individual events he'll contest. He holds the world record in the 200 IM, the national record in the 200 freestyle and briefly held the world record in the 100 butterfly.

Phelps will also help the NBAC in the 800 freestyle and 400 medley relays.

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