MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Opponents take notice, Michael Phelps said he has “that old feeling back again.”
Phelps won his fifth gold medal and topped the male points table on the final day of the Minneapolis Grand Prix on Sunday night.
Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley in 1 minute, 57.58 seconds, finishing almost 4 seconds ahead of second-place Darian Townsend. Phelps also won the 100 and 200 butterfly, as well as the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke during the three-day meet at the University of Minnesota.
“It feels good to sort of have things going in the right direction again,” Phelps said. “It’s been so long that I’ve been
able to swim halfway decent in-season. Being able to kind of get back to those times is definitely good for me right now.
“We have eight months to go and it’s going to be here before we know it. So, I’m happy to just be able to compete how I used to,” he said.
Missy Franklin was the leading female scorer after winning five medals. Franklin won the 200 backstroke on Sunday, touching the wall in 2:08.03 and later won the 100 freestyle in 54.27. She also finished third in the 200 individual medley in 2:13.12.
Earlier in the meet, Franklin won the 100 backstroke and was second in the 200 freestyle. The 16-year-old Franklin won the overall Grand Prix series title last year and is vying for her first Olympic berth.
“We’re in really tough training right now; everyone is,” Franklin said. “To be able to come out here and go some of my best
in-season times is really good. I’m thrilled.”
The women’s 100 freestyle came down to a race between the two leading point-scorers in the meet. Franklin edged second-place Allison Schmitt, who finished second in 54.69. Schmitt won the 200 and 400 freestyle events, was second in the 200 butterfly and third in the 800 freestyle.
“She had a breakout meet really,” said Bob Bowman, the coach for Phelps and Schmitt in Baltimore. “She’s just done better
training than she’s ever done. She came right home from the nationals this summer and started training the next day. So, she really hasn’t taken a step backwards at all.”
Ryan Lochte had the third-fastest preliminary time in the 200 individual medley and the top preliminary time in the 200
backstroke, but opted not to swim in the finals. A six-time Olympic medalist, Lochte’s best finish in the meet was fourth — in the 100 backstroke Saturday night.
“Right now this is probably the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, in my whole entire swimming career,” Lochte said earlier in the meet. “So, I’m really happy about that. At the same time this is probably the most tired I’ve ever been just because the training I’ve been doing.”
The Minneapolis Grand Prix is the first of seven stops this season on USA Swimming’s Grand Prix series and is another step closer to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., and the 2012 London Games.
The top swimmer in the Grand Prix series will receive $20,000, to be awarded at the final event in June in Santa Clara, Calif.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)