By Sarah Tolar
LONG BEACH, Calif., June 8. IT seems that we may have found the American equivalent of the Thorpe vs. Hackett rivalry: Phelps vs. Keller.
Klete Keller slashed Phelps’s 400 free American record last night, but Phelps had a world record of his own in the 400 IM to celebrate. Both men have already earned their spots on the Olympic team, so tomorrow night the 200 freestyle battle will be just for the love of the race.
Keller was the faster of the two after prelims this morning, posting a 1:48.15 to Phelps’ 1:48.40. Tonight Phelps swam from heat one of the semifinals. He took his race out fast, flipping at the hundred with a 52.66, the fastest split of the field, and finishing with a time of 1:47.42. Chad Carvin of Mission Viejo made a strong move on the last 50 to overtake Nate Dusing of Longhorn Aquatics and touched behind Phelps with a time of 1:49.11.
In heat two, Keller relaxed a bit on the front end. He recorded a 100 split of 53.25 and came home strong with a 26.98 split on his last 50, the fastest last 50 in both heats. Keller touched at 1:47.65, two-tenths slower than Phelps’s swim the heat before.
Behind Phelps and Keller, the next six men are all at 1:49. The top six finishers will earn a trip to Athens. So tomorrow night’s race is available for the taking.