January 22, 2008
LONG BEACH, Calif.
Phelps, of Rodgers Forge, opened with the 100-yard butterfly, coming from behind to beat Matt Grevers in 45.40 seconds.
"I just know that last turn he's going to waste me," Grevers said.
About 40 minutes later, the six-time Olympic gold medalist returned for the 100 backstroke. Phelps again rallied to beat Peter Marshall and Grevers, touching in 45.50 seconds.
Then, 45 minutes after that, Phelps hit the water for the 100 breaststroke and got beat by 2004 Olympian Mark Gangloff, who finished first in 53.09. Phelps was timed in 53.41 - his best by 1.2 seconds.
"Mark is the second-fastest breaststroker we have," Phelps said. "I saw him at 75 [yards], and I was hoping I could get a dolphin kick and get past him."
Gangloff knew where Phelps was in the water.
"Breaststroke is my thing, and I got him," he said. "That's not his best stroke, so I had to have some pride. He pushes me to be better than I normally would be, so I can't really complain that he was in there."
Phelps won five of six finals over three days of short-course swimming at Belmont Plaza's indoor pool, the same place he opened the past season.
"It surpassed my expectations. He's a lot faster than he was a year ago at this time, and that was his best season ever," said Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach.
Last year, Phelps produced the greatest performance in world championships history, setting four individual world records and winning seven gold medals.
So what do his faster times mean this year?
"I hope it's even better than '07," he said. "I'm more relaxed this year than I was last year. The most important thing for me is keeping a steady program of training. Week after week, month after month of stronger training is the best thing that's going to help me accomplish my goals this year."
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