By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 2. FOR the second straight night, Michael Phelps flirted with one of his world records. And, for the second consecutive evening, he came up just short. Nonetheless, the greatest swimmer in history put on another sensational show for the crowd of 12,000-strong at the Qwest Center.
Right around world-record pace for the entire race, the defending Olympic champion in the 200 butterfly clocked a time of 1:52.20 in his pet event, the discipline that rocketed him to stardom. Phelps' winning time was just off his world record of 1:52.09, which he managed at last year's World Championships in Melbourne.
It was Phelps' third victory of the Trials, complementing earlier triumphs in the 200 freestyle and 400 individual medley. Phelps was pushed in the early stages of the race as Davis Tarwater and Gil Stovall stayed with the eight-time Olympic medalist. Phelps, however, pulled away in the latter stages of the swim.
"My butterfly felt the best this year," Phelps said. "I'm not sure if I was too conservative. This gives me the opportunity to prep in the next month. I'm not exactly disappointed. It was the second-fastest I've ever swam, but I would've liked to go a little faster."
Stovall, using a split of 29.86 for the last 50 meters, grabbed the second spot as he reeled in Tarwater, who was 31.04 for the final lap. Stovall touched the wall in 1:53.86, making him the second-fastest performer in history. As for Tarwater, he was timed in 1:54.46, the fastest showing of his career. The rest of the field was rounded out by Matt Patton (1:56.98), Dan Madwed (1:57.10), Alex Vanderkaay (1:57.25), Bobby Bollier (1:57.26) and Mark Dylla (1:58.11).
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World's 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.