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Phelps wins his preliminary heat in the 400 IM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Phelps powered back Friday morning after a rather desultory performance the night before, winning his heat in the 400-meter individual medley preliminaries at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

His time of 4:2131, second-best in the field, had his coach Bob Bowman in better spirits. Bowman was steamed Wednesday night after Phelps glided to his finish in the 100-meter butterfly, winning the race but at a slower time than he would have had he put in one more stroke.

“This was much better preparation,” Bowman said.

Phelps will swim in the finals Friday night.

That Phelps is even swimming the grueling 400-meter IM is surprising; the Baltimore swimmer had sworn off the race after the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He and Bowman have said that they decided to add it to his other four races here as a measure of where Phelps is as he prepares for the London Olympics four months from now.

“It’s not fun,” Phelps said with a grimace Thursday night, anticipating the race that swimmers consider the most punishing in their sport. “It helps me see where I am … Right now, we’re using it for training.”

Bowman said Thursday that’s about the extent of it – meaning Phelps won’t be adding it to his line-up in London.

“I would saythat the door is pretty much closed on that,” he said.

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