IRVINE, Calif. — Nathan Adrian led all the way to win the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. national championships, with Michael Phelps finishing next-to-last in a star-studded field.
Adrian touched in 48.31 seconds on Wednesday night. 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 own 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.”
Olympian Cullen Jones was relegated to the ‘B’ final, where he finished third.
In the women’s 100 free, Missy Franklin surged over the last lap to win in 53.43, tying for the fifth-fastest time in the world this year. Simone Manuel, the quickest qualifier in morning preliminaries with a career-best time, finished second in 53.66. Franklin was third at the turn, behind leader Manuel and Natalie Coughlin.
The final featured four Olympians — Franklin, Coughlin, Shannon Vreeland and Amanda Weir. Vreeland was third in 54.14, Coughlin finished seventh and Weir was last.
Olympic champion Katie Ledecky earned her third straight national title in the 800 free with a time of 8 minutes, 18.47 seconds — well off her world-record time of 8:11.00 set last month at a meet in Texas. Cierra Runge was second in 8:24.69 and 16-year-old open-water national champion Becca Mann finished third in 8:26.64.
Open-water Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson was fifth and two-time Olympian Chloe Sutton ended up seventh.
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