IRVINE, California — Nathan Adrian led all the way to win the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. national championships on Aug. 6, with Michael Phelps finishing next-to-last in a star-studded field.
Adrian touched in 48.31 seconds. Ryan Lochte was second in 48.96 swimming in the far outside lane. Jimmy Feigen finished third in 48.98.
Phelps was last at the turn and straggled home in 49.17, beating only Seth Stubblefield. It was Phelps’ worst showing since beginning a comeback in April.
Conor Dwyer took fourth, joining the top three on the U.S. team for the Pan Pacific championships later this month in Australia. “That group of eight guys is much faster than what we showed,” Adrian said.
Phelps is facing his toughest competition yet three months after returning to the pool. The most decorated Olympian in history has three other events in which to qualify for Pan Pacs.
Adrian and Phelps swam next to each other. After the race they chatted, with Phelps saying, “Man, I missed the wall.” Adrian replied, “Good thing you’re the best swimmer of all time. You’re going to get on the team.”
The men’s 100 final featured seven Olympians, including five who have won individual gold medals.
“It’s insane the quality of swimmer it took to make the top eight,” Adrian said. “There were even some medalists outside the top eight. It’s never easy to make a U.S. team no matter who you are or where you’re at in your career.”
In the women’s 100 freestyle, Missy Franklin surged over the last lap to win in 53.43. Simone Manuel, the quickest qualifier in morning preliminaries with a career-best time, finished second in 53.66 while Shannon Vreeland was third in 54.14.
Olympic champion Katie Ledecky earned her third straight national title in the 800 freestyle. Cierra Runge was second in 8:24.69 and 16-year-old open-water national champion Becca Mann finished third in 8:26.64.
(BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer)