Michael Phelps stormed to victory in the 400m Individual Medley final on Saturday as the 14-times Olympic champion won the first final of five events he has entered at the two-day Berlin World Cup meet.
The 26-year-old clocked 4 mins 01.49 secs, the fastest time in the world so far this year, to win the final from Japan’s Daiya Seto, second at 4 mins 02.85 secs and Yuya Horihata, third at 4 mins 09.05 secs.
“I am happy, that was my first race over the distance for a long time, so that was OK,” said Phelps. Phelps will contest the 100m IM final on Saturday night and is also competing here in the 100m butterfly, 200m IM and the 200m backstroke as part of his preparations for next July’s London Olympic Games, with the US trials to be held in June.
Phelps, who also won six golds at the 2004 Olympics, has said he is in his best form since 2008, but he started his season in Moscow earlier this week with a defeat by Germany’s Paul Biedermann in the 200m freestyle.
Other swim stars in action in Berlin included double Olympic champion Britta Steffen whose time of 24.29secs in the 50m freestyle heats was second-fastest behind Britain’s Francesca Halsall, who swam 24.26sec.
“It was okay, but in the final, I’ll have to be faster,” said Steffen.
Her boyfriend and short-course world champion Biedermann dominated the field in the 400m freestyle heats and was the fastest into the final in a time of 3 mins 44.85secs.
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