Phelps celebrates first outing in British pool

Updated: Dec 19, 2009, 11:07 AM IST

London: Michael Phelps celebrated his first appearance in a British pool on Friday by helping the United States to a commanding 89-33 lead over a European team on the first day of the Duel in the Pool meeting.

The Americans raced to a 14-0 lead after the men`s and women`s 4x100 metres medley relays in the opening races of the two-day meeting with both teams breaking the previous world short-course records.

Nick Thoman gave the American men a perfect start with an individual world backstroke mark of 48.94 seconds while Phelps swam the butterfly leg.

Phelps, who won a record eight golds at last year`s Beijing Olympics, won the individual 100 butterfly by five-hundredths of a second from Benjamin Starke after the German had led at the 50 metres mark. He finished third in the 100 freestyle.

In the latter race he was the only man wearing the textile shorts which will be mandatory from Jan. 1. His opponents were dressed in the polyurethane bodysuit which the swimming authorities have decided unfairly boost performances.

"I`m going to go home and get some rest for tomorrow," Phelps told reporters. "Tomorrow it`s for the title. You`re going to see a couple more races, a couple of fast ones."

Phelps, who failed to win a race in two World Cup meetings in Europe last month, said he had decided subsequently to wear the approved uniform.

"I`m having to work harder and having to make sure I`m in better shape than I was then," he said.

"I guess the 100 fly is one that comes down to a touch. It`s always under a tenth. Coming off that last wall I wanted to try and have a good underwater kick to make sure I had a good touch."

American Olympic champion Rebecca Soni set a world record of two minutes 14.57 in the women`s 200 metres breaststroke and her team mate Julia Smit clocked another world mark of 4:21.04 in the women`s 400 individual medley.

Although the European women did better than the men`s team, Britain`s double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington was well beaten by Alison Schmitt in the 400 metres freestyle, one of the night`s feature races.

"Ever since I`ve been on the national team in 2000 we`ve always wanted to come out the first day and make a big mark and try to make a statement," Phelps said. "We came out today and had a big day."

Bureau Report