Phelps makes a splash again

INDIANAPOLIS - Michael Phelps made his first appearance at the US Nationals and clocked the fastest times with two routine swims in morning preliminary heats yesterday.

INDIANAPOLIS - Michael Phelps made his first appearance at the US Nationals and clocked the fastest times with two routine swims in morning preliminary heats yesterday.

Phelps, looking fit having shed the 7kg he put on after his record gold medal haul at the Beijing Olympics, began by posting the top time in the 200m freestyle.

The 24-year-old American was back in the pool less than an hour later to touch first in the 200m butterfly and he had a chance to clinch berths in the US team for this month's world championships in Rome with top-two finishes in last night's finals.

"Typical prelim swims," Phelps told reporters. "I'm probably happier about the 200 fly, maybe I just needed one to get going.

"Feel good for tonight, we'll try the bigger suit tonight for both races. I'm going to wear the full suit tonight. I tried it out in Montreal and I really liked it. That's the first time I ever tried it and it was a fairly decent swim so going to try it and see what happens."

After a tumultuous nine months off that included a three-month suspension from USA Swimming when he was photographed inhaling from a dagga pipe, Phelps returned to competition in Charlotte in May. While his transition from the world's greatest all-round swimmer to sprinter is far from complete, Phelps is quickly coming to grips with new events and a new stroke as he lays the foundations for the 2012 London Olympics.

He was back to his dominant best yesterday, posting the fastest time of 1min: 46,31sec in the 200m freestyle and easing to a comfortable win in his 200m butterfly heat in 1:55,36. - Reuters

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