ATHENS, GEORGIA – Michael Phelps’ form deserted him Sunday night.
Phelps, winner of 18 Olympic golds and 22 medals overall, was beaten by Yannick Agnel in the 100-meter freestyle at the Bulldog Grand Slam.
Agnel, who won two gold medals for France at the 2012 London Olympics and trains with Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, won with a time of 49.37 to Phelps’ 49.42.
“I’m not really too pumped about tonight. My stroke kind of felt bad,” Phelps said. “Tonight, as soon as I took my first stroke, I felt kind of blah. It happens from time to time.”
Phelps and other top U.S. swimmers used this weekend’s meet at the University of Georgia to help prepare for the National Championships, which will be held Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, California.
Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly on Friday and the 100-meter backstroke on Saturday before swimming his final race on Sunday.
Agnel, who won the 200-meter freestyle and was a part of France’s winning 400-meter freestyle relay team at the London Games, touched the wall just before Phelps.
“It’s good to get racing after being out of everything for almost two years,” Phelps said. “That’s the most important thing, to get as many races under my belt as I can before I get to nationals.”
Coach Bob Bowman likes the progress Phelps has made in returning to the pool after retiring after the London Games.
“It was fine. For what he’s been doing, it’s good,” Bowman said. “Is it good enough to swim at a world championship level next year? No. He’s going to have to do some different things. But for where he is right now, I think it’s quite good.”
Ryan Lochte, who has 11 Olympic medals, including five gold, used the meet to test his left knee, which required surgery after a freak accident with a fan last November left him with a torn MCL and sprained ACL.
Lochte, who finished behind Phelps in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke earlier in the meet, won the 200 individual medley in 1:58.65 on Sunday, defeating Chase Kalisz (1:59.38).
“There is a lot more improvement that I need to do,” said Lochte, who also was fourth in the 100 freestyle in 49.65. “The time was decent, but I’m not really satisfied with it. There’s more room for improvement, and that’s what we’re going to do when I go back to Charlotte for the next 2½ weeks.”