Worn-out Phelps wins two

Amid brutal training run, he takes 200 free, 400 IM

Swimming

March 20, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Michael Phelps broke up a rigorous period of training with a pair of easy victories at the Maryland Local Swimming Committee Championships last night.

Phelps, from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, won the 200-yard freestyle by more than 10 seconds and the 400 individual medley by nearly 14. Phelps' fatigue was his biggest foe at the U.S. Naval Academy's Lejeune Hall.

It was Phelps' first competition in six weeks, since he won five events at the U.S. Spring Nationals in Orlando, Fla. With two weeks until a World Cup meet in Indianapolis and four months until the U.S. Olympic trials, coach Bob Bowman has Phelps, 18, and his other top swimmers training right through this meet.

"He's been destroying our legs since Australia," said Phelps, referring to a trip there in November. "He wants to see how we react to being tired and sore."

Phelps didn't wear any of the cutting edge suits he modeled for Speedo in New York last week. He didn't shave for this meet. The NBAC's Senior Elite Group had difficult dry-land workouts on Monday and Tuesday, and its normal double practices on Monday and Wednesday.

In the Olympic format, in 50-meter pools, Phelps is the world record-holder in the 400 IM and the American record-holder in the 200 freestyle. This is a short-course yards (25) meet, however, a format Phelps doesn't focus on.

He got out well in the 200 freestyle, and finished in 1 minute, 34.14 seconds, .32 off his personal best and 1.11 off of Matt Biondi's 17-year-old American record. He was a tad erratic in the 400 IM, as his 3:42.59 didn't better the personal best he posted in 2002.

In the 400 IM for 13-14 girls, Katie Hoff of the NBAC's Harford satellite team shaved more than three seconds off of her national age-group best, as she dipped to 4:08.44.

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