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Phelps loses again at Charlotte GP

Michael Phelps was beaten again at the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix on Sunday night, losing to Frederick Bousquet of France in the 100-meter freestyle.

Phelps touched nearly a full second behind Bousquet, world-record holder in the 50 free, after losing his first final in nearly a year. Compatriot Aaron Peirsol beat Phelps in the 200 backstroke on Saturday.

Bousquet went out strong, ensuring he had a big enough lead to hold off Phelps at the end - even as Beijing Olympic star Phelps experimented with a new straight-arm stroke that is supposed to provide more speed. The Frenchman touched in 48.22 seconds, while Phelps never really had a chance while finishing second in 49.04.

"The biggest thing that killed me were my turns and my finishes," Phelps said. "I'm not disappointed with that time, but finish was awful. There's things I need to work on. But overall, it was a good meet."

He was competing for the first time since capturing a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics last August. The nine-month layoff was the longest of his career, though he had intended to come back earlier - after being photographed using a marijuana pipe, a picture that wound up on the front page of a British tabloid, he was given a three-month suspension by USA Swimming.

The sanction ended on May 5, and Phelps was eager to start competing again. He entered five events at Charlotte, North Carolina, and won the first two, the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, both of which were part of his haul in China.

But Phelps still has some work to do in the 200 backstroke and 100 freestyle, two events he hopes to add to his repertoire while dropping several races he won at Athens and Beijing. It's all part of his plan to take on new challenges - and stay motivated - heading into his final Olympics in London.

Nothing gets Phelps going like a loss. Or two.

"This is something that will motivate me to fix those things over the next few weeks," he said. "I'm kind of mad at myself. I wanted to break 49. I was five-hundredths off it with the two stupid mistakes I made."

Phelps was kicking himself for having to take an extra stroke going into the turn, and again at the finish.


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