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Phelps seals eighth London berth

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IOL pic july2 swimming phelps

Associated Press

Michael Phelps swims to victory in the men's 100m butterfly final at the US Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha - Michael Phelps finished off his preparations for his Olympic swansong in emphatic style on Sunday when he qualified for a fifth individual event on the penultimate night of competition at the US Trials.

The 14-time Olympic gold medallist, still showing no signs of weariness after a draining week of high-pressure racing, powered home over the last lap to win the 100m butterfly final in 51.14 seconds.

It was the 27-year-old's fourth straight win of the trials after he finished second to Ryan Lochte in the 400m medley final on Monday and ensured he would contest his usual heavy eight-event schedule in London, with the addition of the three relays.

Lochte sliced half a second off his personal best time to finish third in the 100m butterfly, an event he normally does not swim, but missed out on another berth for London with only the top two qualifying.

Tyler McGill grabbed the second spot behind Phelps when he reached the wall in 51.32 after getting a flying start off the blocks.

Lochte, whose rivalry with Phelps promises to be one of the highlights of London, had already qualified in four individual events plus at least one relay.

Missy Franklin, the new spearhead of the American women's team, qualified for a record seventh event in London after winning the women's 200m backstroke.

The 17-year-old from Colorado never gave her rivals a chance as she stormed to victory in two minutes 06.12 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and more than a second ahead of runner-up Elizabeth Beisel, who also qualified in the 400m medley earlier in the week.

Franklin became the first American woman to qualify for the Olympics in seven events and if she stands on the podium in every race, she will become the first female swimmer from any country to win seven medals at a single games.

Another bright teenage star surfaced from the temporary pool in America's Midwest when 15-year-old Kathleen Ledecky won the 800m freestyle, the longest event on the women's programme, ahead of Kate Ziegler.

Ledecky slashed more than five seconds off her best time in leading from start to finish to stop the clock at 8:19.78, the second fastest time in the world this year.

She heads to London as the youngest member of a deeply talented American swim team overflowing with medal contenders.

Anthony Ervin, who won gold at the Sydney Olympics 12 years ago, became one of the oldest when he rolled back the years to qualify second in the 50m freestyle, behind Cullen Jones.

The 31-year-old Ervin retired from swimming in 2003 but made a comeback in the hope of making the team for London and he succeeded when got his hand on the wall in the nick of a time.

Cullen, runner-up in the 100m, was first in 21.59, just 0.01 ahead of Ervin after a frantic finish where the eight finalists were separated by less than a second.

The eight day championships wrap up on Monday with two events, the men's 1 500m freestyle and the women's 50m freestyle where 45-year-old Dara Torres will be bidding to qualify for her sixth Olympics. - Reuters


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