Phelps back on track with wins at Indianapolis GP

Gold medal Olympic hero Michael Phelps posted two of the fastest times in the world this year.

Indianapolis: Gold medal Olympic hero Michael Phelps posted two of the fastest times in the world this year by winning the 200-metre freestyle and 100-metre butterfly at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

The 16-time Olympic medallist won the 200m in one minute, 46.27 seconds and did the same in the 100m with a time of 51.75 seconds Thursday at the Indiana University Natatorium facility.

"The best time in the world. I`ll take it. I`m definitely happy," said Phelps, who is gearing up for the 2012 Olympics.

The 25-year-old American won by a full body-length in the butterfly, beating out runner-up Kaio de Almeida of Brazil and Japan`s Masayuki Kishida, who placed third.

In the freestyle, Phelps defeated Tunisian Olympian Ous Mellouli by seven-tenths of a second. Dominik Meichtry of Switzerland was third.

US Olympian Dana Vollmer also turned in the fastest time in the world this year by winning the women`s 100-metre butterfly in 57.66 seconds.

Ireland`s Barry Murphy won the men`s 100-metre breaststroke in a world leading 1:00.77, and so did Mellouli in the men`s 400-metre individual medley with a time of 4:13.80.

Phelps`s impressive results Thursday are an indication that he is stepping up his performances ahead of the Olympics in London next year.

"We really just want to get him back to the top level, or near the top level, and it`s good to be back," coach Bob Bowman said. "Finally, he`s in the game. Now, we can kind of worry about the other stuff."

In January, Phelps had a disappointing performance at the Austin Grand Prix, where he was relegated to the consolation final in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1:49.90.

He was pleased that he improved on that time Thursday.

"I said to myself if I was under 1:47 in the 200 free, I`d be really happy, and when I saw 46.2, it kind of surprised me a little bit," Phelps said.

He trained hard in the US Rocky Mountains for several weeks before heading to Indianapolis.

"I`m in a lot better shape than I was a month and a half ago, that`s for sure," he said. "Right now, I`m a lot more consistent. It`s making gradual steps back to where I should be."

Bowman said Phelps is learning how to win again.

"I really liked his stroke in freestyle," he said. "It`s the first time it`s been like his normal stroke in a while. And his 100 fly was great. The good news is, it`s the top time in the world by quite a bit, and he can do better."

Phelps still holds the world record in the 100-metre butterfly.

"The only thing I`m upset about in the fly was my finish," he said. "I try not to have finishes like that because I know how important they are. “

"If there`s a time to have a bad finish like that, it`s here because I know there`s some things I can change here. For the most part, I know I`m heading in the right direction."

On the women`s side, Kathryn Hoff won the 200-metre freestyle, Jessica Hardy won the 100-metre breaststroke, Vollmer won the 100-metre fly and Julia Smit won the 400-metre individual medley.

Bureau Report