Michael Phelps, the U.S. swimmer whose performance at the 2008 Olympics made his name a household word, showed he is still one of the fastest men in the pool with a win in the 200-meter Butterly at the 14th FINA World Championships held in Shanghai China, Wednesday.
Phelps posted a time of 1:53.34, beating Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda (1:54.01) and China’s Wu Peng (1:54.67.)
The 26-year-old swimmer has won gold in this event at five times in the past ten years—at every biennial World Championship except 2005 when he swam other events.
In a videotaped interview on the USA Swimming website, Phelps said he was pleased by both his performance and his progress.
“I had written down in my journal all the times I wanted to do at this meet, and so far I’m on pace,” Phelps said. “Every single one that I’ve written down, I’m right at it. I wanted to be 1:53 low, and that’s what I was. That’s a second and a half faster than last year, and I feel like I’m kind of getting back.
“I felt like my old self the last 100 [meters] of that race, especially that last 25. I didn’t feel like I was dying and barely able to get my arms out of the water and like there was a piano on my back. I actually felt like I was swimming for a whole 200 meters, so it felt good.”The Baltimore-based Phelps is preparing to once again represent the United States at the Olympics. In his first Olympic foray, Athens in 2004, he brought home six gold and two bronze medals. Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which propelled him to national stardom.
The record for most Olympic medals is 18, set by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina over three Olympics. The American swimmer is on track to demolish that mark in London in 2012.