x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Relaxed Phelps looking forward to winning more medals

Michael Phelps did not take a tour of the Vatican, check out the Trevi Fountain or visit the Colosseum when he took a rare day off at the World Championships yesterday.

ROME // Michael Phelps did not take a tour of the Vatican, check out the Trevi Fountain or visit the Colosseum when he took a rare day off at the World Championships yesterday. "I've got to try to get as much rest as possible," Phelps said. Phelps is all business, even when he's swimming a reduced schedule that actually provided him a break. "I've got most of the workload over with now," he said, sounding relieved after a tiring, stressful year.

He's also got another world record, and this one was particularly satisfying. One night after he was beaten by Germany's Paul Biedermann in the 200metre freestyle, Phelps broke his own record in the 200m butterfly for his first individual title at the championships. He surpassed another of Mark Spitz's accomplishments with the 34th world record of his career, one more than Spitz had during his brilliant run in the pool.

"I've always done well in it," said Phelps, who has so far won two golds and one silver in Rome. "I guess you can call it my bread and butter event." He went out strong, fought off the pain over the last lap and touched in 1min 51.51secs, more than a half-second faster than his gold medal-winning time of 1-52.03 at the Beijing Olympics. Phelps was a lot more relaxed for this race than he was getting ready to face Biedermann. "I actually had a really good night's sleep for the first time this whole trip, so I was pretty happy about that," Phelps said. "I actually woke up this morning after my alarm went off. I hit snooze a couple times before I got up."

He will have more time to sleep in. Backing off his eight-event programme at the last two Olympics and the 2007 World Championships, Phelps is competing in six races at Rome, three of them relays. The reduced scheduled provides a most-welcome break in the middle and sets him up for his final three events: the 100m fly, 800m free relay and 400m medley relay. The 100m fly is the most intriguing event left for Phelps. That was the race he won by a thousandth of a second in Beijing, a margin so close runner-up Milorad Cavic of Serbia still believes he touched first.

* AP