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Pan Pacific swimming: Michael Phelps wins 200 butterfly

August 18, 2010 |  9:21 pm

Satisfaction remained an elusive concept for Michael Phelps.

Disappointment? Exhaustion?

Yes, those were in reach. But maybe it was a mixture of both after Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Irvine in 1 minute 54.11 seconds.

This was, after all, a far cry from his most recent experience in the event, a win at the nationals here earlier this month. It was a race he called probably his “worst” 200 fly ever.

On Wednesday, he fretted about getting run down and kept telling himself down the stretch: “Please, just get to the wall.”

Nick D’Arcy of Australia was second in 1:54.73, and Takeshi Matsuda of Japan took third in 1:54.81.

Still, Phelps  was not thrilled and looked to be in a world of hurt.

“It was painful, oh my.… I wanted to go 1:53,” he said. “There were some things I didn’t do well in that race that could have been the difference.

“I think I chopped a couple of walls….small technical things.”

Phelps drew a laugh from the crowd when asked how close he was to where he wanted to be. “A long way, a long way,” he said.

It certainly won’t get easier, not with Ryan Lochte looming in the individual medley races. Their first meeting in the 400 individual medley since the Olympics in 2008 could be on Thursday night.

Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, earlier in the day had spoken about the motivational presence of the newly committed Lochte.

“They’ve traded places,” Bowman said, smiling. “You know how I am. It’s very hard for me when I can’t follow a plan. With Michael we have a five-minute plan.  My other guys, we have four-year plan.”

Lochte has adopted an improved nutrition plan and Bowman once mused how formidable an opponent a fitter Lochte could be down the road. He also said that Phelps’ meal plan could be improved, calling it inconsistent.

“You can tell he looks better,” Bowman said of Lochte. “He’s definitely fitter. And that means you train better. That’s something, a good thing for Michael, something he’s never done that he can really improve on. We have at least one thing we can really do a lot better.”

The medley events will serve as a barometer for Phelps.

“He doesn’t really have the sense for what it’s like to want to do something and not have it there,” Bowman said. “He’s never been that far away from the conditioning that he couldn’t just step on it and make it happen. I don’t know that he’s that far away from it now.”

-- Lisa Dillman