Michael Phelps tired near the end to finish a distant second to France’s Yannick Agnel in the 200-meter freestyle at the Arena Grand Prix at Santa Clara on Saturday.
Olympic champion Agnel led Phelps narrowly after 100 meters but extended his lead over his fellow North Baltimore Aquatic Club member in the second half to clock 1 minute, 46.99 seconds.
Phelps was second in 1:48:20, more than five seconds slower than his American record of 1:42.96, set at the 2008 Olympics. Conor Dwyer, also from NBAC, was third in 1:48.36.
"I got left like I was standing still in the last 50 by this guy,” Phelps, standing next to Agnel, told Universal Sports, describing it as his “slowest 50 ever.”
Phelps, 28, is back at sea level after a stint of altitude training and is using the Northern California meet, his third since coming out of retirement, as part of his preparation for the U.S. nationals in August and, hopefully, the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia later that month.
He tied for first in the 100 butterfly Friday and was second in the 100 freestyle.
Phelps stayed with Agnel for the first half of Saturday’s final in the outdoor pool, only 0.04 behind after 100 meters.
But Agnel pulled 0.36 clear at the final turn and Phelps barely held on for second, slowing noticeably over the final 50.
Phelps is scheduled to swim the 200 individual medley today.
NBAC’s Chase Kalisz earned first in the men’s 400 IM with a time of 4:11.71, fifth-fastest time in the world for 2014.
Elizabeth Pelton of Baltimore finished second in the women’s 200 backstroke to American Elizabeth Beisel, who won in 2:09.11. Pelton clocked a 2:09.73. Beisel also won the 400 IM.
On Friday night, Felicia Lee, who attended Towson High and competed for NBAC, from 2005 to 2010, won the 100 butterfly in 59.62.