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Returning Phelps in quest for London gold
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-20 11:35

CHARLOTTE -- Michael Phelps has some serious work to do to get faster if he is going to be as unbeatable at the 2012 London Olympics as he was last year at the Beijing Olympics.

The 23-year-old US swimming superstar who won a record eight gold medals last August in China is off to high-altitude training for three weeks after two triumphs and two runner-up efforts in his first meet since his China heroics.

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"The next three weeks are going to be real important," Phelps said. "It's going to be a big part of the summer."

Phelps had eight weeks of training before concluding the longest competitive layoff of his career at the Charlotte UltraSwim, his first strokes on the way to the London Olympics.

"For my first meet back, it was great. I'm happy to be back in the pool," Phelps said. "I had some things that really pleased me and some things that really disappointed me."

Returning Phelps in quest for London gold

Phelps will be shifting his work from the endurance and versatility of his landmark effort at Beijing to improve his form and speed in shorter races, aiming at being the fastest man in the water in three years.

That means different weightlifting exercises and adjusting stroke mechanics for his new straight-arm style to add tempo and acceleration, new challenges that will offer Phelps new goals and targets between now at London.

"Michael is the greatest swimmer in the world in terms of his mental focus and attitude," said Bob Bowman, Phelps's coach. "The thing that is best about him is his mental makeup."

If Phelps needed any extra inspiration, he received it from his first two losses in a year. Aaron Peirsol beat Phelps in the 100m backstroke final and France's Fred Bousquet beat him in the 100 freestyle.

"It's very nice for Mike to remember what it's like to race at the very top level," Bowman said, noting that when it came to Phelps's competitive spirit, "You could tell the switch was fully flipped."

Phelps switched from old stroke to new twice in the 100 free final and was forced to take extra strokes at either end of the 50m pool.

"I usually don't mess up the little things like that," Phelps said. "I have to go back and focus."

Phelps also left no doubt that the photograph of him holding a bong and other online tales of his life outside the water are behind him and out of his thoughts now that it is time to resume his training in the pool.

"That's what I'm focusing on. That's all that matters," Phelps said. "I'm happy to be back in the pool and happy the first meet is behind me."

The next meets for Phelps will come next month at Santa Clara, Califorina, and Montreal before July's US championships, the qualifying meet for the world championships in Rome later in July.


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