PALO ALTO, Calif., May 21. ONE day, Michael Phelps will probably attack the 200-meter backstroke in international competition. After all, he’s the globe’s second-best performer in the event, behind world-record holder Aaron Peirsol.
For now, though, Phelps is merely flirting with the discipline, albeit in impressive fashion. Saturday night, during the second evening of the Stanford Invitational Grand Prix, Phelps captured top honors in the 200 back with an effort of 1:59.94.
Last summer, Phelps qualified for the Olympic Games in the event, but opted to stay away in Athens, due to an already jam-packed schedule. But, he’s the second-fastest man in history and is likely to give the distance dorsal a major push at some point during his career.
In prevailing at Stanford, Phelps took an early lead and held off his Club Wolverine teammate, Chris DeJong, who collected second place with a swim of 2:00.53. Randall Bal finished third in 2:03.88.
Prior to winning the 200 back, Phelps had an easy time winning the 400 freestyle. Phelps clocked 3:51.94 and led a Club Wolverine sweep of the top three places. DeJong was second (3:54.16) and Peter Vanderkaay was third (3:54.18). Wolverine also notched fifth and sixth behind Davis Tarwater and Klete Keller.
On the women’s side, Kate Ziegler and Mary DeScenza added victories to their opening-day triumphs. After winning the 800 free Friday in a strong 8:30.68, Ziegler easily toppled the competition in the 400 free Saturday night, as she touched the wall in 4:13.86. As for DeScenza, she complemented Friday triumphs in the 100 free and 200 butterfly with a Saturday decision in the 200 backstroke (2:15.40).
Natalie Coughlin contested a pair of events on the second day of action and came away with a second-place effort in the 200 individual medley and an eighth-place mark in the 800 free. Coughlin went 2:16.25 in the I.M., just behind the leading swim of 2:16.18, registered by Ariana Kukors.
In the women’s 100 breast, Megan Jendrick cooked up a 1:08.81 performance to win in convincing fashion. Jendrick, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist in the event, placed ahead of Rebecca Soni (1:11.04).
Other winners were Rolandas Gimbutis in the men’s 50 freestyle (22.81), Gary Marshall in the men’s 100 breast (1:03.97), Miguel Molina in the men’s 200 I.M. (2:05.60) and Brooke Bishop in the women’s 50 free (25.91).