Swimming: Phelps cruises into 200m medley final

Michael Phelps during the Men's 200IM during the preliminary heats at the George F. Haines International Aquatic Center. -- PHOTO: REUTERS / USA TODAY SPORTS
Michael Phelps during the Men's 200IM during the preliminary heats at the George F. Haines International Aquatic Center. -- PHOTO: REUTERS / USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Olympic superstar Michael Phelps, swimming his first 200m medley race since the 2012 London Olympics, cruised into the final Sunday at the Santa Clara Grand Prix meeting.

Phelps, whose 22 Olympic medals include an astonishing 18 golds, won his heat comfortably in a time of 2min 0.89sec – 1.2sec in front of Max Williamson.

Phelps led a sweep by North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmers of the top three qualifying spots.

Club-mate Chase Kalisz won his heat in the morning’s second-quickest time of 2:01.69 and Conor Dwyer won his heat in the third-fastest time of 2:02.05.

For Phelps, the 200m medley is a fourth event in three days – his busiest meet schedule since he returned from a near two-year retirement at the Mesa Grand Prix in April.

On Saturday night he finished runner-up to another North Baltimore training partner, France’s world and Olympic champion Yannick Agnel, in the 200m freestyle.

On Friday Phelps tied for first place with Tom Shields in the 100m butterfly and finished second to Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian in the 100m free.