June 21, 2009
Phelps, who lives in Fells Point, swam a personal-best time of 50.48 seconds in winning the 100-meter butterfly Saturday at the Canada Cup, flirting with the world record set here four years ago by American Ian Crocker.
Phelps, competing in the pool used at the 1976 Olympics, improved on his previous best of 50.58, from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
"This pool is still in great shape and it's fast, too; it's without a doubt fast," said Phelps, who won one of his record eight gold medals in setting an Olympic record in the event last summer, the only event in which he did not establish a world record.
On Saturday, Phelps narrowly missed Crocker's world record of 50.40 set during the 2005 world championships, which were held at a new outdoor complex built on the site of the Montreal World's Fair, Expo '67.
"It was pretty much exactly the same race as Beijing - I was out a tenth slower," Phelps said. "I just need to get a little bit more rest leading up to nationals and, hopefully, take it out a little bit quicker."
Phelps won five gold medals in Montreal in 2005, getting the silver behind Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly.
"It's cool coming up here again, being able to swim up here for the second time in my career," Phelps said. "In '05, I had a so-so meet, but this is definitely better than last time and I'm excited to be back."
Phelps' performance came while wearing a full-length bodysuit. He had previously worn the pants version in the event.
"It felt perfect," Phelps said. "I felt awesome coming off the wall. It really felt like I got up on top of the water so I guess that's going to be the suit I'm wearing now in the 100 fly."
Phelps is using the Montreal meet as a final tuneup for the U.S. championships, which will serve as the trials for the world championships in Rome next month.
"The intensity is still there, the drive to compete is still there, the love to swim is still there, so I think right now it's just getting back into better shape," Phelps said. "Coming off the three weeks that I had in Colorado Springs, I really feel like I'm in a lot better shape than I was. … I couldn't ask anything more about where I am and where I stand right now leading into the trials."
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