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BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. WITH five-time World titlist Michael Phelps now gone from the sport, the door is wide open this year in the men’s 200-meter fly and the last man to vanquish Phelps in the event is the top seed heading into the finale at the FINA World Championships.
South Africa’s Chad Le Clos powered his way to a 1:55.33 in semis, the fourth ranked time in the world, bettering his season best of 1:55.40 from the Mare Nostrum circuit earlier this summer. Last summer, Le Clos slayed the dragon by beating Phelps in the event at the 2012 London Olympics. The big question this year is whether he can pull off another win without the motivation of beating his idol.
China’s Wu Peng qualified second in 1:55.42 and is looking for his first gold in the event following bronze in 2011 and silver in 2007. A championship in this event would be a long time coming for the Club Wolverine-based swimmer.
Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski, the 2005 victor in this event, qualified third in 1:55.67 and easily could make some noise in the finale as he has rounded back into form after a post-Olympic break.
China’s Chen Yin (1:55.97), USA’s Tyler Clary (1:55.97), Russia’s Nikolay Skvortsov (1:56.02), Brazil’s Leonardo De Deus (1:56.06) and USA’s Tom Luchsinger (1:56.10) earned the other spots in the finale, while 2011 runner-up Takeshi Matsuda wound up 11th in 1:56.42 to miss the finale. Bolles-based Joseph Schooling lowered his Singapore record with a 10th-place 1:56.27.