Phelps gets best of rival Peirsol in 100m backstroke

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Michael Phelps ended his drought against Aaron Peirsol and is ready to start turning his attention toward the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Phelps capped a busy afternoon by beating Peirsol in the 100-meter backstroke at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on Sunday, the first time the six-time Olympic gold medalist has ever defeated Peirsol in a backstroke event.

"I just tried to nail the last wall and have a real good kickout," said Phelps, who won five events during the four-day meet. "I knew those guys were close. I just tried to spin my arms as fast as I could and hope I didn't die. I was hurting a little bit at the end."

The win over Peirsol capped a busy day for Phelps, who also picked wins in the 100 free and 200 IM. The five medals were the most by any individual swimmer at the meet.

Australia's Cate Campbell set a U.S. Open record and had the third-fastest time ever in the women's 50 free in 24.13 seconds, beating American Natalie Coughlin who was third in 24.92.

Campbell, who turns 16 on Tuesday, set a U.S. Open record in the 100 free earlier in the meet by holding off Coughlin. This time the sprint was never in question as Campbell led the entire distance, coming up just shy of the world record of 23.97 held by fellow Australian Lisabeth Lenton-Trickett. The American record of 24.53 was set by Dara Torres on Aug. 4, 2007.

Erik Vendt also set a U.S. Open record in the 1,500 free in 14:46.78. Brendan Hansen won the men's 200 breast in 2:10.62, setting a meet record though it was more than 2 seconds slower than his world record time. Short course world champion Mary Descenza held off Kim Vandenberg to win the women's 200 fly in 207.77 and also set a meet record.

For the second straight day, though, the race between Phelps and Peirsol was the main attraction.

Peirsol, the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 back, got off to a strong start and was just behind race leader Matt Grevers at the turn while Phelps was in fourth, almost a half-second behind. But Phelps, who on Saturday lost to Peirsol in the 200 backstroke and was upset about his stroke in the 400 IM, made a charge down the stretch and overtook the leaders with 30 meters left on his way to the win.

"It's a good confidence booster to know that the backstroke is there," Phelps said. "Overall I'm pretty satisfied."

Phelps had a taxing schedule Sunday, competing in three events in less than an hour. He started by winning the 100 free in 49.15 seconds and followed that by capturing the 200 IM in 1:58.13 before holding off Peirsol and Grevers in the 100 back.

"That was a great triple he did," Peirsol said. "You can't take away anything he did from that. That was maybe a little slower than I thought I was going to go but not a bad swim by any stretch of the imagination. He's just ready to race no matter who's swimming next to him."

Phelps has one final tuneup left before the U.S. Olympic Trials begin in Omaha, Neb. on June 29.

"This meet's always been something good for me the past few years," Phelps said. "I've come out here and swam well [in the past] and it's definitely helped me swim good and fast at the end of the year. I'm looking forward to getting ready for Trials and this is going to be a good week for me to build off of."

Maki Mita, a member of the Japanese Olympic team, was released from the hospital and doing fine a day after she collapsed at the meet. She had finished the women's 800 relay when she began having trouble breathing, cramping and suffering from chills according to a meet official.