Phelps Breaks Pool Record in Nostalgic Career-Ender

It’s easy to sleep on Sunday evening finals of big pro meets. Many swimmers either get tired and start scratching, or else head home from the meet early. But if you tuned-out of the Longhorn Aquatics Elite Invite prior to Sunday evening, you missed some of the most exciting battles of the whole weekend, and a legendary record being broken by one Michael Fred Phelps.

Men’s 200 Fly

So much for being “tired”. Michael Phelps, seemingly fired up on Sunday, marked a 1:54.79 in the 200 fly to open the men’s swimming in the final session of the meet. That’s the third-best time in the world this year. Phelps hasn’t swum that fast in-season since 2009; and after scratching the 200 IM he was able to focus his full effort on this event.

This is a poetic end to the final regular-season meet of his career. It was back in 2001, at this same pool, where Phelps-mania began – where we first saw a glimmer that he might not just be great, but that he might be the greatest. At that year’s World Championship trials, he swam a 1:54.92 as only a 15-year old. That swim made him the youngest World Record holder in history, and now for good measure, he’s made the mark just a bit faster to ensure it’s longevity.

“I wanted my record to stand. I wanted the pool record to stand just because that was my first world record,” Phelps said after the race. This was just an amazing swim.

China’s Wu Peng, as expected, closed well, and in fact made up over half-a-second on the final 50 to reel in Phelps a bit (1:56.71). But when you’re racing a guy who just went out in a 54.5 as Phelps did, it’s hard to really make up much ground. That’s a fantastic time for Peng at this point of the season, though, and he should be a heavy medal contender in London.

Texas’ Neil Caskey is following up his breakout college season with a good long course season as well; he was 3rd in this race in 1:59.82 – a best time.

Women’s 200 Fly

The women’s 200 fly didn’t see the same world-topping times as Phelps had in the men’s race, but it was still an outstanding race between Texas A&M’s Cammile Adams and Texas swimmer Kathleen Hersey. Hersey took the race out with a strong lead (neither is a great sprinter, but she’s definitely the better of the two) of about a meter. But Adams has an amazing back-half on her 200 fly; by the 150 meter mark she had pulled even with Hersey, and coming off of the final wall she put the win away.

Adams’ finishing time was 2:07.35, with Hersey touching 2nd in 2:08.45.

We’ve seen this finishing speed before from Adams in this pool, specifically in January at the Grand Prix meet just a few weeks before Big 12’s. There, she faced off against another one of the world’s best 200 btuterfliers – Jemma Lowe of Great Britain. In that race, she was in a dead-heat on the final turn as well, but put up a great closing 50 to win there too.

For Hersey, who has been strong all weekend, that’s a season-best time and bumps her up a few spots to 14th in the world this year.

Another Texas A&M swimmer, Caroline McElhany, completed the podium in 2:11.80. That’s a best time by over a second.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

After some lopsided breaststroke battles between the two the past few weeks, as well as a few missed chances due to scratches, we finally got the Breeja LarsonLaura Sogar toe-to-toe race that we were waiting for in this 100 breast. The pair put their fingers on the turn in identical splits of 32.79, and held neck-and-neck the whole back-half of the race. Both women are very tall breaststrokers, but Larson used every bit of her inch-or-so height advantage to just barely hit the wall first in 1:08.08. Sogar was 2nd in 1:08.15. That’s a best-time for both swimmers, as they begin their downhill run to the Olympic Trials.

Annie Zhu from North Baltimore was 3rd in 1:10.33, a season-best time for her. Texas’ Catherine Wagner swam the second-best time of her life with a 1:11.76, with a good confidence-boost by tipping Georgia All-American Melanie Margalis (1:11.83).

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Longhorn Aquatics swimmer Brendan Hansen was the lone National-Team level breaststroker in this meet, and he demonstrated that with a 1:01.16 to win the race.

Georgia swimmer Nicolas Fink is starting to move toward that level, however. The 18-year old has had a great meet, and in this race swam the second-fastest time of his career in 1:02.62.

Texas’ Eric Friedland had a lock on 3rd, until Nitro’s Will Licon charged home on a great back-half. The veteran Friedland was 3rd in 1:03.77, with Licon touching 4th in 1:03.78. Dax Hill was 7th in 1:06.02.

Women’s 800 Free

Georgia’s South African Wendy Trott won the women’s 800 free in 8:29.21. That’s within a few-tenths of what she went at South African Trials in April. Like many of her Georgia teammates, she’s swimming very well, even though she’s on a different goal-meet than they are (the Games versus Trials). Trott’s season, though she lost her perfect streak in the 1650 at NCAA’s, has brought to light a whole new part of her that brings swim fans a new level of respect. Her latest academic honor is as the recipient of the Boyd McWhorter Female Scholar Athlete of the Year award, given to the top scholar athlete in the whole of the SEC. She’s added that honor to her Elite 89 award (having the highest GPA at the NCAA Championship meet) and several Georgia student-athlete of the year awards.

North Baltimore’s Gillian Ryan wrapped her meet up with the best swim of her weekend in 8:32.46; like Phelps, she looked much better on this last day as compared to the rest of the meet.

Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry was 3rd in 8:41.72; bettering teammate Maureen McLaine (8:42.95) for the podium.

Men’s 1500 Free

Michigan swimmer Connor Jaeger took another big step in what has been a developmental-explosion over the last year with a 15:16.84. That’s quite a bit slower than he was in Charlotte, but it’s only the third-best time of his career. In some regards, it may be a step backwards, but I think that he and the Michigan coaching staff will see it as an invaluable learning experience, and build off of it swimming toward trials.

His teammate Ryan Feeley was 2nd in 15:20.78, and William Freeman was 3rd in 15:48.18.

Women’s 100 Back

This was the best meet of Megan Romano’s career, in long course at least. She may have more great swims to come this summer at the Olympic Trials, but it’s hard to deny 5 best times in 5 finals at this meet as the high-point to date. She capped the meet with her second win, a 1:00.19 in this 100 back, cutting seven-tenths off of her previous top mark from last summer’s Nationals. That ties her for 12th-fastest in the world this year, and could add a whole-new wrinkle to a 100 backstroke that was already going to be an outstanding race with Coughlin, Franklin, and Bootsma all pushing toward 59-lows.

Her teammate Kristen Shickora was 2nd in 1:01.81, with Missouri’s Dominique Bochard taking 3rd in 1:01.95.

Men’s 100 Back

Stanford’s Matt Thompson won the men’s 100 back in 55.88, followed by Texas’ Patrick Murphy in 56.01.

Club Wolverine swimmer George Bovell was 3rd in 56.06. The IM’er-turned-sprinter used this race to really work on his kick – a great strategy for sprinters of all ages.

Women’s 200 IM

Texas’ Karlee Bispo won the women’s 200 IM in 2:13.32 – a best time for her. Her best chance at making the American team is in the freestyle races right now, but between now and the Rio Games, if she wanted to she could probably get herself to a point where she could challenge in the 200 IM at trials as well.

Georgia swimmers Shannon Vreeland (2:13.80) and Melanie Margalis (2:15.28) took 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Annie Zhu took 4th in 2:16.29.

Men’s 200 IM

Barbados swimmer Bradley Ally had another great IM swim in this 200 (he was a 4:18 in the 400) with a 2:00.80 for the win. He was extremely fast on the front-half (56.00), but it was the back-half that won this race. Chase Kalisz made up some ground on the breaststroke leg, but he was in too much of a deficit at that point with a 2:02.36 to place 2nd.

Texas swimmer Austin Surhoff was 3rd in 2:02.73, which is an excellent time for him.

Full, Live Meet Results available here. Check out our Video Section for lots of great footage from the meet (with more to come).

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8 years ago

Romano making the statement in long course. Kudos to her – the next generation of great American swimmers is making their move. The female veterans better take note.

8 years ago

That was a great performance by Phelps to bounce back on his final swim after somewhat dissapointing swims on the previous days. The Japanese swimmer still swam a faster time which I found somewhat shocking. It is reasons such as these Phelps will still question swimming the 400 IM in London, even if he is to qualify at Trials considering it may take out a lot of energy for his later events in his grueling program like the 200 fly where competition has become more fierce than back in ’08.

In any case, where his motivation comes from to swim the 400 IM again remains unclear. I do know that Scott Clary and Phelps hate each other and are… Read more »

Reply to  Kevin
8 years ago

Tension between Bowman and Jon? Without a doubt, NOT TRUE.

Reply to  Kevin
8 years ago

Too much idle time on deck lets to idle talk/speculation. Regardless of any feelings do you really think that someone would plan their Olympic program around such a thing? Further, it was Bowman pushing for the event not Phelps wasn’t it?
Finally, as one who previously stated that Phelps would not swim the 400 IM, I am prepared to eat crow on Day 1 in Omaha when if he swims it at Finals but not before then.

8 years ago

lol where is there rumor coming from about Phelps and Clary? I recall the same rumor word for word went around summer of 2010. But I’ve seen some of their interaction on twitter and in a few videos and Phelps doesn’t outwardly show he has a problem with Clary in the slightest. (ie. MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Last day! Last event….medley relay….let’s go boyyys….glgl to @TylerClary and @ryanlochte in 4im….finish up strong for the #USA
31 Jul)
Silly rumor needs to go away. As for tension between Bowman and Jon U, I don’t think so. Why would there be tension there when there’s no tension between Jon and Michael? Jon absolutely loves Michael.

I thinks Phelps was… Read more »

Reply to  Lisa
8 years ago

Lisa, you are wrong when you said Matsuda is not very consistent.

In fact, Matsuda is the MOST consistent 200 flyer in the world.

He seems to be able to drop 1:54-1:55 anywhere anytime, but the thing is, he seems incapable of improving on that. The past few years should tell you about this.
We’ll see how he goes in London.

Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

You’re right! I was actually thinking more inconsistency in terms of ability to medal not times 🙂 But you are right, he’s been hitting 1:54s for a while now.

Reply to  Lisa
8 years ago


you are quick to jump to the conclusion that Jon Urb is the FAST coach I was referring too. Bowman and Urb are great friends and he has developed great respect for Michael over the years while they were with each other at Michigan.

I’m talking about the head coach of FAST Bill Jewell. I am not too sure of the extent of tension between Bowman and Jewell, but it is there. And yes, there is plenty of tension between Clary and Phelps. They don’t get along whether the media discloses this information or not. My advice is to not buy into everything the media releases, whether it is sports, politics, etc…

Example 1) Media hardly… Read more »

Reply to  Kevin
8 years ago

Yea, I have heard those rumors too. No love lost between the two of them that’s for sure.
And you are right, twitter is not exactly a source for factual information, saying,” lets go boys finish up strong for the USA ” is not an indication of anything.
The bottom line is it doesn’t matter if they like each other or not,if their dislike makes them swim faster, go for it;motivation takes on different faces. Doesn’t have to be one big happy family, a little dysfunction can be a good thing.
BTW.Jewell has not been at fast for quite some time now

Reply to  Kevin
8 years ago

Well I assumed you meant Jon, seeing he is Tyler’s coach.

And sorry twitter interaction isn’t indictive of anything but GOSSIP is? really……. wow

Reply to  Kevin
8 years ago

Oh yeah, no one knew who Bill Ayers or Reverend White were prior to the elections. Except that both were reported on by basically every media outlet in the US in the spring of ’08.

Reply to  Kevin
8 years ago

I was gonna say, anyone who doesn’t know who Reverend Wright is must have been living in a cave in 2008. Sidenote: I hope this website doesn’t turn into CNN because I want to ENJOY the comments!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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