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Phelps takes 400 freestyle for second GP victory

MICHAEL Phelps held off a late charge by his rivals to win the 400-meter freestyle at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix in California on Saturday.

Phelps cruised to an early lead but had to dig in over the final 100 meters to win in 3 minutes, 48.05 seconds under sunny, windy conditions at the outdoor pool. It was his second victory of the meet, having won the 200 butterfly by 5.67 seconds on Friday.

Ryan Cochrane of Canada pushed Phelps in the closing meters only to settle for second in 3:48.40. Robert Hurley of Australia was third in 3:48.49.

"I felt awesome the first 250, then I turned with 150 to go and I was second-guessing why I ever asked to swim that event," he said.

Phelps has rarely swum the event over the years, and he didn't advance to the 400 free final at the 2005 world championships in Montreal, a failure that still bothers him.

"I don't think I've ever hurt that bad after a race. I'm not in enough shape to swim a good 400," the 14-time Olympic winner said. "That's more of a wake-up call than Bob (Bowman, coach) telling me."

Phelps will compete this weekend in Montreal, his third meet since returning from a three-month suspension handed down by USA Swimming after a photo of Phelps using a marijuana pipe surfaced.

Phelps' Olympic teammate Ryan Lochte had an easier time. The Olympic and world record-holder won the 200 backstroke over Aussie Ashley Delaney by 1.77 seconds. Lochte touched in 1:56.83 and Delaney in 1:58.60, making them the only me.

Lochte finished second to Masayuki Kishida of Japan in the 100 butterfly by 0.41 seconds. Kishida won in 52.43. Lochte clocked 52.84 a night after he won the 400 individual medley.

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe swam to two victories.

She scored a dominating victory in the 400 IM, winning by 3.87 seconds over American Dagny Knutson.

Coventry's time of 4:32.15 lowered last year's meet record of 4:36.75 set by 16-year-old Elizabeth Beisel, who finished third this year. Knutson also went under the old meet record, clocking 4:36.02.

Coventry returned later to win the 100 backstroke in 1:00.68, not even close to her world-record time of 58.77 set at the Beijing Olympics, where she took silver behind American Natalie Coughlin.

Leisel Jones of Australia, the Olympic champion and world record-holder, completed a sweep of the breaststroke events, winning the 100 in 1:07.11 to go with her 200 title on Friday.


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