Los Angeles: Michael Phelps easily won the men's 200 metre individual medley by holding off Chase Kalisz Thursday night at the 2015 US Winter Nationals event.
Phelps, a record 18-time Olympic gold medallist, clocked a time of one minute, 57.61 seconds, which was 1.16 seconds faster than runner-up Kalisz at the King County Aquatic Center in Seattle, Washington. It was also 1.69 seconds quicker than his time three weeks ago in Minneapolis. "The time was fine," said the American star Phelps, who turns 31 in June.
"The biggest thing is just being able to move forward throughout the season to really, hopefully set up a good time for Olympic trials." Despite the victory, Phelps was still almost three seconds slower than his best time this year and more than three seconds slower than Ryan Lochte's US record of 1:54.56. Eduardo Solaeche narrowly held off David Nolan for the bronze getting the edge 2:00.14 to 2:00.15.
Thursday was the first meet for Phelps since he and fiancee Nicole Johnson announced they are expecting a baby. Phelps joked about changing diapers one day, saying, "There are many things that could happen while changing a diaper, so if I can get in and get out safely, that's all that matters."
Phelps, Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin are among the Olympic champions expected at the meet which continues Friday and Saturday. More than 40 US national team swimmers are among about 700 set to compete, but most eyes will be upon Phelps, who was named US Swimming's male athlete of the year despite not competing at the World Championships in Russia.
A second drunk-driving arrest in 2014 led to Phelps being removed from the US world team, leaving him to swim at the US nationals in Texas. There, he won the 100 and 200 butterfly crowns with the fastest times in the world this year and took the 200 individual medley as well.