Michael Phelps emerged on the world stage at age 15 in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, taking fifth in the 200-meter butterfly.
The following year he won the gold medal in the FINA World Championships in Japan, setting a world record he hasn't relinquished since.
So, it was only appropriate that Phelps -- the only four-time male Olympic swimmer in U.S. history -- added the 200 butterfly to his schedule for London, creating the opportunity to win a third consecutive gold medal following Thursday night's victory at the Olympic trials at Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.
Although Phelps was well off his record, he posted the fastest time in the world this year with a mark of 1 minute, 53.65 seconds, with Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team's Tyler Clary rallying in the final 50 meters to secure his first Olympic berth by taking second in 1:55.12.
"I think the most pressure is what I put on myself. I was just thinking about it (Thursday), this is my fourth Olympics Games in this event, so it's special to me, special to my family, special to my mom," Phelps said. "I have a couple of weeks to perfect some things that I'm going to need if I want to end with a good one. It's not a good enough time to win a gold medal, but I think I'm OK with it. (That race) was the best my stroke has felt throughout the whole meet."
Clary was in fourth place with 50 meters remaining, but managed to get past Davis Tarwater (1:56.83) and Bobby Bollier (1:55.79) with a late surge
to join Phelps on the American roster.
"It still hasn't even settled in. I'm still trying to go over everything that happened in that race," Clary said. "About 100 meters in, I didn't think there was any way I was going to come back, but it worked out."
Phelps, with two victories and a runner-up in four days, still has the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley remaining in his pursuit to again compete in eight events -- including all three relays -- in London.
Georgia standout Allison Schmitt also secured her second victory, following her 400 freestyle win Tuesday, with an American record in the 200 free in 1:54.40. Missy Franklin, who earned her first Olympic berth Wednesday by winning the 100 backstroke, added a second event with a runner-up finish in 1:56.79.
"It's my best time by a half-second, and I couldn't be happier right now. I'm surprised, but I've been having a great training year, and I've been preparing for this," Schmitt said. "I didn't feel like I was on my record pace, but I could hear the crowd. And when I touched and saw the flames go off I was pretty excited before I even looked up and saw the time."
Cal's Caitlin Leverenz, with an Olympic spot already secured in the 400 individual medley, won the 200 IM in 2:10.22. Leverenz will be joined by world record-holder Ariana Kukors, who took second in 2:11.30.
Lochte gives Lezak hope
Jason Lezak kept Michael Phelps' streak alive for eight gold medals in 2008 in Beijing with his impressive anchor leg on the 400 freestyle relay to rally the Americans past France.
Ryan Lochte kept Lezak's pursuit of a fourth Olympic berth alive by scratching out of tonight's 100 free final.
Lezak, 36, qualified ninth in the semifinals in 49.05, with only the top eight advancing to the final. Since Lochte, who tied for fifth (48.91), is already on the American roster, he decided to focus on the 200 IM and 200 backstroke today and not compete in the 100 free, opening the door for Lezak to make the Olympic team either individually or as part of the 400 free relay corps. Matt Grevers, the 100 backstroke champion, also scratched out of the 100 free final after qualifying third in 48.71, giving David Walters a chance to compete in the final.
"I have a hard double (today), a 200 back, 200 IM, so I know I have enough time to do the 100 free," Lochte said. "But we made a plan going into this meet that I was just going to do the semifinals of the 100 free and whatever happens, happens."
Hart graduate Anthony Ervin, 31, was 13th in the semifinals in 49.46, with Cal's Nathan Adrian posting the fastest time of 48.33. Ervin can still qualify for the American roster in the 50 free.
Vandenberg in the hunt again
Former UCLA standout Kim Vandenberg qualified to compete in the 800 free relay in 2008 in Beijing, but is still seeking her first Olympic berth in her signature event, the 200 butterfly.
Vandenberg advanced to tonight's final, qualifying fourth in the semifinals in 2:09.79, with Texas A & M's Cammile Adams (2:08.07), Longhorn Aquatics' Kathleen Hersey (2:08.61) and Florida's Teresa Crippen (2:09.59) also in contention for the top two spots.
Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau, Olympic qualifiers in the 100 breaststroke, advanced to today's 200 breaststroke final. Arizona's Clark Burckle posted the fastest semifinal time of 2:10.01, with Trojan Swim Club's Shanteau (2:10.14) and Longhorn Aquatics' Hansen (2:10.45) right behind.
Former Saugus standout John Criste, competing for Trojan Swim Club, was 23rd in the 200 breaststroke prelims in 2:15.11, with Oaks Christian graduate Nolan Koon -- representing Cal Aquatics and Canyons Aquatic Club -- taking 25th in 2:15.28.
Hart graduate and UC San Diego junior Nick Korth, competing for Canyons Aquatic Club, finished 77th in 2:20.48, with Crescenta Valley senior Young Tae Seo -- representing Swim Pasadena -- taking 118th in 2:24.41. Loyola's Peter Kropp, competing for Rattler Swim Club, was 124th in 2:25.35.
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