MONTREAL – American swim star Michael Phelps arrived at the Canada Cup swim meet with a bang, but departed with a bit of a whimper Sunday.
A day after setting a new personal best in the 100-metre butterfly Phelps said he was “really disappointed” with his time in Sunday’s 100-metre freestyle final, though his clocking of 48.65 seconds was still good enough to edge Australia’s Matthew Targett for the gold medal.
“I was happy with the 100 fly, happy with the first 50 of the free, but the last 50 wasn’t that good,” Phelps said. “I was really happy with the stroke and the split in the first 50, I just wasn’t too happy with how I got home.”
Phelps has been experimenting with a new, straight-armed “windmill” technique in the freestyle and says it remains a work in progress.
“It’s still something we’re working on, it’s something we’ll have to constantly work on,” Phelps said. “Twelve years of doing one stroke and then switching at the snap of a finger, it’s kind of hard to do. We’re still trying to fix some things.”
Still, despite his difficulties, Phelps’ time Sunday was the fifth-fastest of his career in the 100-metre freestyle, an event that is not necessarily his strongest.
Phelps swam a career-best 47.51 seconds as the lead leg for the world record-setting U.S. 4X100-metre freestyle team at the Beijing Olympics, but he did not swim the event individually and is not sure if he will do so in two weeks at the U.S. swim championships in Indianapolis.
That takes nothing away from what Targett accomplished Sunday, swimming a great final 50 metres to nearly make up the huge lead Phelps held after the turn.
Targett, who won silver and bronze medals in Beijing with the Australian relay teams, said afterwards that while Phelps was the main reason he came to Montreal, he can’t rejoice too much over coming so close to beating the world’s best.
“If everyone could brag about losing to Michael Phelps,” he said, “there would be a lot of people with big heads in the world.”
For a second straight day there was a capacity crowd of about 3,000 who jammed the Olympic pool for a glimpse of Phelps, and none were happier as they left the building than Thomas Lemieux-Mercier.
The young man was watching Phelps leave the pool deck after the medal ceremony when he was tossed the gold medal from his swimming idol.
“The best part (of the meet) was the fans, being able to have a packed crowd every night at finals and the energy they had, the excitement they had, that makes it fun and definitely more exciting and more entertaining,” Phelps said. “Those guys have been screaming their lungs out the whole meet, so I thought I’d give them a little medal.”
Phelps isn’t sure which events he will compete in at the upcoming U.S. swim championships, which serve as the trials for the world championships at the end of July in Rome. But he’s sure of at least one thing.
“My moustache and my hair will be gone in about two weeks,” he said.
It was another good performance for Canadians as a national record for a third straight day.
Following up the new standards set by Montreal’s Victoria Poon in the 50-metre freestyle and butterfly, Vancouver’s Annamay Pierce lowered her own mark in the 100-metre breaststroke with a time of 1:07.31, shaving nearly seven-tenths of a second off her record.
Audrey Lacroix of Pont-Rouge, Que., was awarded the Quebec Cup, which goes to the top Quebec-based swimmer of the competition. Lacroix won gold medals in both the 100 and 200-metre butterfly events.