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Phelps does back to back to back

The swimmer is second, first and second in consecutive events at Long Beach and has won four total. Sandeno has most points for women.

January 16, 2007|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Bob Bowman hatched an experiment that put Michael Phelps up against the Specialists -- Ian Crocker, Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen -- within about 41 minutes Monday.

Essentially, it was Phelps vs. the Texas Longhorns in Long Beach at the Toyota Southern California Grand Prix of Swimming at the Belmont Plaza Olympic pool. How did the experiment fare?

Longhorns 2, Phelps 1.

Bowman, Phelps' coach, always wanted the swimmer to try this particular triple but had to stay behind in Ann Arbor, Mich., with his college swimmers. So Phelps' odyssey through the water started in the 100-yard butterfly, in which he finished second to Crocker, continued with a win in the 100 backstroke against a talented field including Peirsol, and finished with another second-place finish against Hansen, this time in the 100 breaststroke.

Hansen won in 52.81 seconds to Phelps' 54.67. Phelps was relieved that his long training trip, which started in Mexico, was finally over. He has won four events and finished as the men's high-point recipient of the meet. His Club Wolverine teammate Kaitlin Sandeno did the same on the women's side, winning five of her seven events, edging Natalie Coughlin, who went five for five.

"For me to be able to stand up and swim three events back to back to back, I know it's not going to be easy mentally and physically," Phelps said. "I know as many times as I can put myself in a position where I have to be mentally tough is going to help me in the long run, especially with worlds coming up and hopefully the Olympics after that.

"Being able to be tired and still be able to step up and swim how I did, definitely it seems like things are heading in the right direction."

Crocker and Hansen were also pleased. Crocker finished in 45.23 and Phelps was second in 46.05 in the 100 butterfly.

"It gets the adrenalin going, which is a difficult emotion to deal with before you race him, the nerves, but brings the best out in you," Crocker said. "I knew if I put him away on the first 50 far enough he wouldn't get me. I didn't see how far back he was. So I guess my plan worked."

Said Hansen, of Phelps: "Didn't even see him. Michael does his thing and we do ours. But I have to admit to do the three, back to back, like that is pretty amazing."

Phelps won the 100 backstroke in 45.90, Peter Marshall took second in 46.28 and Peirsol third in 46.79.

Peirsol, who won the 200 freestyle Saturday, hardly seemed downcast.

"It was a good time," he said. "I got rocked. Michael's been having a great meet."

The same could be said for Coughlin, who on Monday took the 100 butterfly (50.82) and 100 backstroke (50.67).

"It's been a long time since I've been in this type of meet where I'm doing multiple races, within 15 minutes of each other," she said. "This is a good practice for worlds because hopefully I'll be swimming a lot of events there."

Sandeno's fifth victory at the meet came Monday in the 200 individual medley (1:59.93), signaling a renaissance since she left home to train.

"I really didn't know what to expect, but I wanted to swim well here," she said. "I have such fond memories of this place."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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