ORLANDO, Fla. - Michael Phelps continued his methodical drive toward another five American titles at USA Swimming's Spring Nationals last night.
The 18-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club made history at the Summer Nationals last August when he became the first man to win five events at an American championship meet.
Last night, he won his fourth event here, rolling to victory in the 100-meter butterfly. The meet will conclude tonight with another fait accompli, as he owns history's four fastest times in the 200 individual medley.
Phelps was timed in 51.84 seconds in the 100 butterfly, nearly a full second faster than Japan's Takashi Yamamoto.
When Phelps posted the exact same time at last April's Duel in the Pool, he was only three-hundredths of a second off the world record. He owned that mark for one day at the 2003 world championships, where he was a shocked runner-up in the final to Ian Crocker.
It was the 19th national title for Phelps, 12 coming in the past 11 months. His recent training has been centered on the backstroke and freestyle, work that was evident Wednesday when he nearly set a world record in the 200 backstroke.
"I knew I wasn't going to break 51," Phelps said, a reference to Crocker's 100 butterfly world record of 50.98. "As much as I wanted to, I knew that wasn't going to happen.
"The free and back are where I want them to be. The other strokes, we have some work to do before the [Olympic] trials. Once I get back home, I'll go back to doing some butterfly sets and normal distance sets."
Phelps led off the NBAC's 800 freestyle relay team in 1:46.87, four-tenths of a second off his winning time in the 200 freestyle Thursday and a mark only one other American has bettered.
That staked the NBAC to a five-second lead. Kevin Clements, Nico Zebley (Friends School) and Cory Knopp (Aberdeen High) followed in 7:32.52, good for third behind teams from Denmark and Mission Viejo.
The NBAC was second to the Danes in the women's 800 free relay, in which 14-year-old sensation Katie Hoff was followed by Ellen Brooks (Bryn Mawr School), Meghan Sackett (Dulaney High) and three-time Canadian Olympian Marianne Limpert. Hoff led off in 2:03.66, and Limpert came home in 2:02.96.
Clements and Jamie Barone placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100 breaststroke.
At a glance
What: USA SWimming's Spring Nationals
Site: Orlando, Fla.
When: Concludes today
Michael Phelps' events: 100-meter freestyle (won in 49.05 seconds). 200 freestyle (won in 1:46.47), 200 backstroke (won in 1:55.30), 100 butterfly (won in 51.84), 200 butterfly (won in 51.84), 200 individual medley (today)
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