Michael Phelps won both of his finals Friday night at the Charlotte UltraSwim, making a fine return to the sport after not swimming in a competitive meet for the past nine months.
Phelps won both the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly Friday before a sellout crowd at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, and neither race was terribly close. He won the 100 butterfly in 51.72 seconds, beating the rest of the field by more than a second. He won the 200 freestyle in slightly closer fashion, edging Peter Vanderkaay, 1:46.02 to 1:46.71.
Phelps said after the race he thought he was "ahead of schedule" and was smiling a lot, obviously pleased with his finals. He had only had the third-fastest time in both events in the morning preliminaries, but that's not terribly unusual. Like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, Phelps always seems to turn it on when it matters.
Mark Gangloff of Mecklenburg Aquatic Club won the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.18, nearly breaking the one-minute mark he has dreamed about for years. It was one of Gangloff's fastest times ever and he was still very happy about winning before the hometown crowd.
Phelps now heads into more uncharted territory. In his final three events at the UltraSwim, he will be swimming events that he did not try in Beijing when he won eight gold medals. (He plans to swim only two more finals however, dropping out of either the 50 freestyle or the 100 backstroke after Saturday morning preliminaries).
To stay perfect at the UltraSwim will be difficult for Phelps. But the way Phelps is swimming, he certainly could be perfect in Charlotte, just like he was in China.