Irvine: World champion Michael Phelps had a little more bounce in his step after qualifying fastest in the morning heats for the men’s 100 metres butterfly at the Pan Pacific Championships on Friday.
A day after he failed to reach the final of the 400 medley, Phelps recorded a time of 51.48 seconds at the William Woolett Jr. Aquatics Center. Fellow American Tyler McGill was second in 51.69 with Japan’s Takuro Fujii third in 52.20.
“I wanted to break the Pan Pac record this morning but to have two Americans going under 52 is pretty good,” Phelps told reporters after finishing just outside the meet record of 51.47 set by Australian Ian Crocker in 2006.
“I’m not disappointed with the time. It’s fine. The times are faster in the events here than I did at the (US) nationals. If I can go faster than I did at the nationals then that would be good.”
Phelps had said earlier this week he was in relatively poor shape coming into the Pan Pacs and that his failure to reach the medley final on Thursday had been a timely wake-up call.
“I feel a little bit better today than I have over the last couple of days, probably because it’s only two laps instead of four,” the multiple Olympic gold medallist added.
“My conditioning level is still four, four-and-a-half (out of 10). I think the real test for my motivation will be when I get back in the pool and when I start (full) training again.”
Phelps set the world record for the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.82 at last year’s world championships in Rome where he became the first man to dip under 50 seconds.
American swimmers dominated Friday’s heats in dazzling sunshine, posting the fastest times in six of the eight events, but backstroke specialist Aaron Peirsol had a morning to forget.
World record holder and Pan Pac champion Peirsol failed to qualify for the final of the 200 backstroke despite finishing third fastest overall with 1:56.22.
Only two swimmers from each country can advance to the final and Peirsol was shut out by his fellow Americans Ryan Lochte (1:55.26) and Tyler Clary (1:55.56).
“Those guys were fast and there’s nothing I can do about that,” Peirsol said. “It was tough. I’ll just have to give as good as I can in the B (final) tonight.”
Elizabeth Pelton kept the US flag flying high by clocking a Pan Pac record of 2:07.48 in the women’s 200 backstroke while compatriot Christine Magnuson was fastest in the women’s 100 butterfly with a time of 57.82.
American Jessica Hardy won the women’s 50 breaststroke heats in 30.39, her strong finish relegating Australian veteran Leisel Jones into second place with 30.61.
Chloe Sutton of the US was fastest in the women’s 400 freestyle in 4:07.64 with Australian Katie Goldman second in 4:08.04 and American Allison Schmitt third in 4:08.47.
However two more Americans, Kate Ziegler and Katie Hoff, were eliminated from the final despite clocking the fourth and fifth fastest times as victims of the two-swimmer limit for each country.
In the other events, Brazilian Felipe Silva led the way in the men’s 50 breaststroke and South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan was fastest in the men’s 400 freestyle.