Phelps ends weekend by making a big splash

National record among 4 wins on event's last night


March 22, 2004|By Sam Atkinson | Sam Atkinson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Michael Phelps delivered another record-setting performance for a third straight night at the Maryland Local Swimming Committee Championships, establishing a national record in the 200 backstroke and triumphing in three other events.

Phelps, 18 and from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, set the mark for his 17-18 age group in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1 minute, 41.55 seconds.

"My backstroke has definitely gotten better over the past year," said Phelps. "I think this is a stroke that can carry me for a few years to come. The progression so far has been exciting."

He nearly set a world record in the 200 backstroke a month ago at the U.S. Spring Nationals. Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman, was more impressed with last night's performance because Phelps "swam extremely fast in the middle of a heavy training period."

Phelps, the American record-holder in the 200-meter butterfly Olympic long course format, was just less than four seconds off his own record - 1:45.38 - in victory.

In the 100 freestyle, Phelps was just two seconds off the American record as he won in 43.95. The final event of the weekend for Phelps was swimming the anchor leg for NBAC in the 400 freestyle relay.

NBAC smashed a 28-year-old area record with a time of 3:01.85, nearly six seconds faster than the old mark.

Phelps won eight individual and two relays for the weekend at the U.S. Naval Academy's Lejeune Hall in Annapolis, an event in preparation for the World Cup meet in Indianapolis in two weeks.

"This weekend gave me the chance to swim back-to-back-to-back events," said Phelps. "I think I did pretty well."

The U.S Olympic Trials will be held in July in Long Beach, Calif. Phelps has qualified for 11 Olympic Trial events.

It was also a record-setting night for Katie Hoff, 14, of the NBAC's Harford satellite team. For the third straight night she set a personal best, this time in the 200 butterfly at 1:57.25. Her time breaks a 10-year-old area record, and her closest competitor finished 13 seconds off her pace. Hoff also won the 100 freestyle (50.70).

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