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A chance for Phelps to see if he's heading in right direction

Associated Press

1:08 AM EST, March 3, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS —

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The Indianapolis Grand Prix will give Michael Phelps an idea of where he stands in his preparations for this summer's world championships and the 2012 Olympics.

He'll also get to see how he measures up to Ryan Lochte, the world's dominant swimmer in 2010.

Phelps, of Baltimore, will compete against Lochte in four of the five events the 14-time Olympic gold medalist is scheduled to swim at the Indiana University Natatorium.

Lochte beat Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley during the Austin Grand Prix in January. Lochte, the world-record holder in the event, finished in 1 minute, 59.26 seconds, while Phelps was third in his worst performance of a disappointing meet.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to swim a little faster than I did in Texas," said Phelps, who has been training in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I feel like I'm making steps forward.

"Over the last couple weeks, couple months, I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. I think there are some small technical things I need to work on, improve on."

Phelps is set to compete against Lochte in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly events today. Phelps set a world record in the 100 butterfly at the U.S. national championships in 2009 in Indianapolis and has since bettered the mark.

They also are slated to compete twice Saturday: in a 200 IM rematch and in the 100freestyle. Phelps also is expected to swim Friday in the 200 butterfly, in which he also holds the world record. Lochte is not entered in that race.

Phelps said Lochte is part of a talented group of swimmers he feels will push him as he prepares for the world championships in Shanghai in July and the 2012 Olympics in London.

"There are a lot of new people out there," Phelps said. "A lot of the Europeans are swimming really well, Ryan is swimming really well. It's going to be fun this summer to head over to Shanghai and be able to swim with some new faces."

Phelps said he wants to be strong this week so he can move to the next step: Olympic preparation.

"I have some times that I want to hit in mind," he said. "This is a chance to see where I stand for worlds. That's the biggest thing, is trying to get as prepared as I can and hit all my marks before world championships. If I do that, then I can set up my Olympic trials."

Phelps hasn't committed to swimming beyond the 2012 Olympics. The 25-year-old realizes that he might be on a farewell tour.

"My mom brought up the point that this could be the last time I swim in these pools, and the last time that she travels to these cities," he said. "It's hard to think about, but we've been able to have a great career in every pool."

Even with all he's accomplished, Phelps said he's still motivated.

"There are still a lot of goals I have and things I want to achieve before I retire from the sport," he said. "If I'm able to do those things, then I can look back on my career and say I've been successful."

When asked what those things were, he said those goals are between him and coach Bob Bowman.

"Million-dollar question," he said. "Everybody wants to know that, but no one will know. Bob has them, and I have them, and we'll work together and try to reach them."