Irvine: Olympic great Michael Phelps suffered the first big setback of his return to competition yesterday as a poor turn left him seventh in the 100m freestyle at the US Swimming Championships.
Michael Phelps reacts after his seventh place finish in the men's 100m freestyle final at the Woollett Aquatic Center. Pic/Getty Images
In a finals field loaded with Olympic medallists, the 18-time Games champion made a mess of his turn at the 50m wall, and had no chance to challenge coming home in the race won by 2012 Olympic gold medallist Nathan Adrian.
"When I literally took a couple kicks and I barely passed the flags, I knew there was very little chance that I was going to run anybody down. It just kind of stinks that I missed the first wall," Phelps said.
Phelps ended a near two-year retirement in April, and the US championships are just his fourth meet since then and his first chance to qualify to represent the United States at an international event — the Pan Pacific Championships August 21-25 in Gold Coast, Australia.
He is slated to swim the 100m butterfly today — the event he has raced the most since his return — and the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley tomorrow and on Sunday.
"I'm just trying to get a spot on the team and go from there. I am ready to have a day off and get ready for the 100 fly," Phelps said.
The top four 100m free finishers earned PanPacs berths, and results from these championships and the meet in Australia will determine the US team for the 2015 World Championships in Russia. Adrian won in 48.31sec.
Ryan Lochte stormed to second in 48.96. Jimmy Feigen was third in 48.98 and Conor Dwyer was fourth in 49.06. Phelps clocked 49.17.
No of gold medals Michael Phelps has clinched at the Olympics
No of medals Phelps has won at the Olympics
Missy Franklin, who followed up her four-gold performance at the London Olympics by winning a record six golds at the 2013 World Championships, used a late surge to win the women's 100m freestyle in 53.43 yesterday. Franklin powered past halfway leader Simone Manuel for the gold, who settled for silver.