Thoman beats Phelps in 100-meter backstroke at Charlotte

The local kid upstaged Michael Phelps.

Nicholas Thoman, who has trained at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center with SwimMAC Carolina for the past eight months, beat Phelps and the rest of a loaded field to win the men's 100-meter backstroke Saturday in the Charlotte UltraSwim.

Thoman touched in 53.70 seconds. Phelps, of Baltimore, finished in 53.92. Olympian Matt Grevers was third in 54.50, and world record holder and Olympic gold medalist Aaron Peirsol was fifth in 54.68.

"Winning here, winning with the home crowd, was really fun," Thoman said.

Beating Phelps, the 14-time Olympic medalist, made it even more special.

"[Beating] Phelps wasn't the big picture — the big picture was getting a best time," said Thoman, who had set the world record in the 100 back short course last year. "I was just trying to chip away at my best time. My goals are best times, suited or unsuited, and it's another in-season best, so I'm excited."

Phelps had won the men's 100 butterfly Friday.

He was scratched from the men's 50 freestyle after finishing ninth in the preliminaries Saturday morning.

"I can't really be disappointed," Phelps said. "It's two- or three-tenths off what I went last year. Being able to come in here and not being as fully prepared as I want to be, I'm fine with that. Going into the wall, I was a little slow, and the last 20 meters I felt like I could barely move. I felt like I was standing still.

"So there's some conditioning I need to fix, but hopefully by the end of the year I'll be where I want to be."

Phelps will now head to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a month of intense training.

Other winners Saturday were Dagny Knutson in the women's 200 butterfly; Peng Wu in the men's 200 butterfly; Vanessa Garcia in the women's 50 freestyle; Josh Schneider in the men's 50 freestyle; Elizabeth Pelton in the women's 100 backstroke; Olympian Rebecca Soni in the women's 200 breaststroke; Olympian Eric Shanteau in the men's 200 breaststroke; Olympian Chloe Sutton in the women's 400 freestyle, and Olympian Peter Vanderkaay in the men's 400 freestyle.

The event, which is part of USA Swimming's Grand Prix series, will conclude today.

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