Melbourne: Australian swimmer Nick D`Arcy hopes his victory over Michael Phelps in the 200 metres butterfly final at the Santa Clara International in California on Sunday is the start of a budding rivalry with the 14-times Olympic gold medallist.
D`Arcy, who will miss the world championships in Shanghai after being ruled out of Australian trials with a liver illness, said his victory by 0.01 seconds over the American had given him a confidence boost ahead of the 2012 London Games.
"I think you`ve got to take away plenty of confidence when you get the opportunity to get one up on possibly the greatest athlete that`s ever lived," the 23-year-old D`Arcy was quoted by the Australian Associated Press as saying after beating Phelps with a time of one minute, 55.39 seconds.
"I consider myself honoured to be even mentioned in the same breath as him, so to get one up on him ... I think that`s really going to give me the drive to push forward to next year."
D`Arcy was booted off the Australian team for the 2008 Olympics for assaulting a former team mate at a Sydney bar for which he was convicted and given a 14-month suspended jail sentence in 2009.
The loss was record-holder Phelps`s third in the last three starts over the distance. China`s Wu Peng ended his nine-year domination of the category in April and repeated the feat a month later at a meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Phelps`s time at Santa Clara was nearly four seconds shy of his 1:51.51 record set at the 2009 world championships in Rome.
D`Arcy, runner-up to Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the Pan Pacific meeting last August, dismissed the idea that the American great might be on the wane.
"I think people know that he can be beaten but I don`t think that takes away anything from Michael as an athlete," said the Australian, who holds the national record in the distance.
"I think some of the times he puts on the board heading towards next year will be very quick and I just want to kind of keep this rivalry up and hopefully go with him."