Fourteen-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps has slumped to rare defeats in the 100-metre freestyle and the 100m backstroke events at Santa Clara, coming second to Canada's Brent Hayden and fellow American Ryan Lochte.
AFP - Two races, two defeats - it definitely was not a normal day at the pool for Michael Phelps.
The Olympic hero lost to Canada's Brent Hayden in the 100-meter freestyle and to fellow American Ryan Lochte in the 100m backstroke Sunday at the Santa Clara Invitational.
Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, now has lost four of eight races since those Olympics last summer.
"Anyone is beatable, it's just a matter of time and where," Lochte said.
Phelps has won two races and lost two others at each of the two meets in which he has competed since returning from a three-month suspension last month, a penalty imposed by USA Swimming after he was photographed with a marijuana pipe.
He has one more meet before the US national championships, at which the American team for the world championships will be selected.
Phelps, who is venturing into new events as he looks toward the London Olympics, said he was pleased with his times in both races Sunday, despite the defeats.
"Right now, for me, it's about seeing where we are and what we need to improve on," he said. "The wins are going to be down the road. Overall, I'm pretty happy."
His coach, Bob Bowman, also said he was happy with the results - especially since Phelps was tired after winning the 400m freestyle on Saturday night.
"He always likes to win, but I think he made some progress in the 100 free and his time was pretty good in the 100 back. I'm very happy with the times and where he's at," Bowman said.
"The headline tomorrow is 'Phelps Loses Twice,' but it's something he just has to live with."
In the 100m freestyle, reigning world champion Hayden opened an early lead over Phelps and held on, though Phelps cut into that lead at the turn. Phelps was swimming in Lane 8, and Hayden - in the middle of the pool in Lane 5 - lost track of him near the end. Hayden won in 48.44, while Phelps finished in 48.87.
"The only time I ever saw him was under water (at the turn)," the Canadian said. "I tried to see him the whole way, but I had too many waves so I finally put my head down and looked for the wall."
In the 100m backstroke, Lochte also got off to an early lead over Phelps. Lochte, the Beijing Olympic gold medalist in the 200m backstroke, won in 54.15, with Phelps second in 54.31. It was Lochte's third race of the evening.
"It was my last race, I really didn't care if I died, I just wanted to go out as fast as I can," Lochte said.
Phelps will swim the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly at the Coupe du Quebec next weekend in Montreal, then join his American teammates in final training for the US national championships starting July 7.
Most of the other major swimming countries have already held their national championships and selected their teams for the world championships.
Because of the suspension, Phelps' only meets this spring have been the Charlotte Ultraswim and Santa Clara.
"It's one more chance to race. We're still working on his freestyle stroke," Bowman said of the Montreal meet. "He has only had two meets all year. It's basically a tuneup."
Other men's winners on the final night of the Santa Clara meet were Australian Brenton Rickard, who set a meet record of 2:10.37 in the 200m breaststroke, and Canadians Brian Johns in the 200m individual medley and Ryan Cochrane in the 1,500m freestyle.
Women's winners were Americans Madison Kennedy in the 50m freestyle, Mary DeScenza in the 200m butterfly and Ariana Kukors in the 200 individual medley, as well as Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry in the 200m backstroke and Australia's Katie Goldman in the 800m freestyle.
Date created : 2009-06-15