By Sharon Robb
May 16, 2014
In his second comeback meet, Michael Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly Friday night at the Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte.
With the crowd on its feet before the race even started at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, the 28-year-old Phelps did not disappoint capturing his first victory since returning to competition in April after an 18-month retirement.
Phelps jumped on his turn for 24.3 split, 4/10ths faster than his Mesa split, and won in 52.13, the identical time he swam at last month’s Mesa Grand Prix. He tied his sixth fastest time in the world this year.
Phelps won by 6/10ths of a second over Florida State alum and top morning qualifier Pavel Sankovich who was second in 52.72. Bolles Olympian Joseph Schooling was third in 52.95 and Brazilian Thiago Pereira was fourth in 53.65.
In morning prelims, Phelps swam 1:51.69 in the 200-meter freestyle. Phelps was bumped into the final when training mate and reigning Olympic champion Yannick Agnel was disqualified but Phelps scratched to focus on the 100 butterfly.
Phelps was frustrated with his walls and turns in the final.
“The consistency is there,” said Phelps after checking out the scoreboard. “Still the walls are really bad. I am having a tough time judging the wall at the 50. I have to spend more time on it in practice.
“The fly time is fine,” Phelps said. “I had a decent 200 and getting back the stroke is what we wanted to do the most at this meet.”
The 100-meter butterfly is one of two individual events Phelps has won at three successive Olympics.
Phelps said he and his North Baltimore teammates are getting ready to head to their annual trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train in altitude for a month.
“I know it is good for me but I don’t enjoy it the most,” he said.
In other championship finals on Friday night:
Women’s 200-meter freestyle: In an exciting opening race, Hungarian Katinka Hosszu held off Olympic gold medalist Allison Schmitt to win in a lifetime-best 1:56.30. Schmitt was second in 1:56.41. It was the first of two wins of the night for Hosszu. “I saw her coming up on the fourth 50 so I tried to stay in the lead,” Hosszu said. “I am really happy with the time. The last 50 hurt really bad.” Becca Mann was sixth in 2:00.62. Melanie Margalis of St. Petersburg was eighth in 2:01.34.
Men’s 200-meter freestyle: Connor Dwyer of North Baltimore Aquatic Club took it out fast to take the lead and held on to his body-length lead to win in 1:47.86. “I just wanted to go out there and see what I could do in the first 100 and try to hold on,” Dwyer said. “I am pretty happy with the time for this part of the season. I have to get used to going out fast and bringing it home.” Dwyer and his teammates plan on training in altitude for a month before nationals.
Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: American record holder Jessica Hardy went out fast swimming in Lane One, held her stroke together and won in 1:06.86, her fastest time this year and fifth fastest in the world. Micah Lawrence was second in 1:07.58. “I am always greatful to get under 1:07 at this time of the season,” Hardy said. “I felt a lot better than I did at Mesa. Training is going pretty good and I am just having fun.”
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: In a close race, 29-year-old Mike Alexandrov held on for the win in 1:01.48, a second off a Top 10 time. “It’s hard to take down the old guy,” Alexandrov said. “I am just practicing racing at every meet, and hopefully being my best at every meet. Day in and day out I am just focusing on the small steps.”
Women’s 50-meter backstroke: In a furious finish, Bulgarian Sveta Khakhlova, 29, of FSU’s Club Seminole won in Lane 2 in 28.68 ahead of Ali Deloof in 28.71. Carolina Colorado was fifth in 29.00.
Men’s 50-meter backstroke: Junya Koga outsprinted David Plummer to win by 17/100ths of a second in 25.00. Plummer was second in 25.17 and Shane Ryan third in 25.79. Fifteen-year-old Michael Andrew was eighth in 26.27 ahead of Bolles Omar Pinzon in 26.26.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: Canadian Olympian Katarine Savard held off Claire Donahue to win in 58.60. Donahue was second in 58.84. “I was expecting a little bit faster, but that’s fine,” said Savard, who is training for Pan Pacs and Commonwealth Games.
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: Hungarian Katinka Hosszu led from wire-to-wire and dominated the women’s field to win in 4:37.85. Clearwater’s Becca Mann of North Baltimore was second in 4:42.29 and Elizabeth Beisel was third in 4:44.45. “I was so hungry to be racing especially after the Brazil nationals,” she said. “Doing the 400 IM after the 200 free is really hard. I have put so many years and work into the 400 IM I can’t stop now.”
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: Chase Kalisz, 20, of North Baltimore controlled the race to win in 4:16.38. Tyler Clary was three seconds off the pace to finish second in 4:19.57. Sebastien Rousseau of Gator Swim Club was tenth in 4:28.46.
Women’s 50-meter breaststroke: Jessica Hardy won her second event with a late surge at the finish ahead of Molly Hannis winning in 31.17. Hannis was second in 31.24.
Men 50-meter breaststroke: Mike Alexandrov won his second event of the night in 28.01.
The meet continues on Saturday with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. Both sessions will be live-streamed at usaswimming.org. The finals will be televised on Universal Sports Network.
The Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte is the fifth stop on the six-event circuit and is loaded with Olympians and swimmers from 53 countries.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com