SAN ANTONIO (United States) • Olympic legend Michael Phelps completed an epic effort at the United States national championships on Monday, serving notice that he still has the speed and skill to star at next year's Olympics.
The 30-year-old finished fifth in Monday's 200m breaststroke final in 2min 11.30sec, well off winner Craig Benson's winning time of 2:09.68.
But he seldom swims the event and approached it more as a training exercise rather than with a victory in mind, having already won three events, beating the winning time at the concurrent Fina World Championships in each one.
"I'm in a great place, a place where I haven't been in a long time, a place where I have confidence," Phelps said. "I've seen the work I've been doing, and done, has worked.
"I'm going into an Olympic year having something to build on and that hasn't happened in a while, probably since 2007. I'm excited to get back into it."
Phelps was supposed to be competing at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, but a drink-driving incident led to him being dropped from the US team.
He met his self-imposed goal in the 200m breaststroke by breaking his former North Baltimore Aquatic Club record of 2:12.10.
"That's what I wanted to beat," Phelps said. "I'll take a 2:11.30 any day of the week. I was just spinning coming in. I had no legs."
The 18-time Olympic champion said he would rather have rested on Monday, but noted it will probably help bolster his confidence about his ability to work in Olympic relays and multiple swims within a few hours in tough situations.
"I kind of wanted to just relax to be honest," he said. "It's kind of good as far as to swim events like this back to back, to see if I can get up and race.
"It's probably good I was able to race these together and see I could race it." AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE