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Phelps loses twice in Santa Clara

MICHAEL Phelps was beaten in the 100-meter freestyle and 100 backstroke on Sunday at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix in California.

The 14-time Olympic gold medalist finished second behind Brent Hayden of Canada in Sunday's night final. Hayden, the leading qualifier, touched in 48.44 seconds. Phelps, swimming in lane 8, had 48.87.

Phelps lost the 100 back to Olympic teammate Ryan Lochte, who went out fast and held on in 54.15 to complete a sweep of the backstroke events. Phelps had 54.31.

Lochte relished the victory over his friend and rival.

"I always like to get a little kick in there," he said, smiling. "Anyone is beatable. It's just a matter of time and where."

Phelps had two wins from four races in his second competition since returning from a three-month suspension by USA Swimming after a photo of him using a marijuana pipe surfaced. He won the 200 butterfly on Friday and the 400 free Saturday.

"I'm ready to go home and sleep in my own bed," said Phelps, who arrived in Northern California direct from three weeks of altitude training in Colorado. "For me, it's about seeing where we are and where we have to improve on. The wins are going to be more down the road."

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe finished off a strong meet by winning the 200 backstroke with the world's fastest time this year.

She was timed in 2:06.99, a meet record, but well off her world mark of 2:05.24 that earned a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last year.

Up next for Phelps is a final tuneup meet in Montreal next weekend before the US nationals in Indianapolis on July 7-11. That's where the team for the world championships in Rome will be selected.

"He always likes to win, but I think he made some progress in the 100 free and his time was pretty good in the 100 back," Phelps' coach Bob Bowman said. "The headline tomorrow is 'Phelps loses twice,' but it's something he just has to live with."

Phelps set the American record of 47.51 in the 100 free as part of the victorious US relay in Beijing, where he won a record eight gold medals.

Sunday's result was a reversal of their 2007 race in Santa Clara. That's when Hayden led with 15 meters to go before Phelps sprinted past him to win.


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