Phelps gets another crack at '03 nemeses in Santa Clara

Swimming

May 14, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Michael Phelps will get the opportunity to avenge his only losses of 2003 at the 37th annual Santa Clara (Calif.) International Invitational on May 22, when Ian Crocker and Aaron Peirsol will join him at one of the most prestigious meets on the American swimming calendar.

Phelps, the 18-year-old sensation from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club who is expected to play a major role at the 2004 Olympics, will tangle with Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly, then challenge Peirsol in the 200 backstroke.

At the world championships in Barcelona, Spain, last July, Phelps set a world record in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly but was then upset in the finals by Crocker, who became the first under 51 seconds. At last year's Santa Clara International, Peirsol handled Phelps, who the next day claimed the world record in the 200 individual medley. Peirsol is a three-time world champion, but Phelps flirted with his world record of 1 minute, 55.15 seconds last February.

Crocker and Peirsol train at the University of Texas under Eddie Reese, who will be the U.S. men's coach at the Olympics in Athens, Greece.

"These guys are doing some training and coming out of exams," Reese said, "but they'll race hard."

The Santa Clara International will be Phelps' last top-flight competition before July's Olympic trials. After Santa Clara, he'll go from California to Colorado Springs, Colo., for several weeks of altitude training, before returning home for the Argent Mortgage Invitational on June 11-14 at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center.

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