MOOLOOLABA'S Nick D’Arcy has become just the second man in nine years to beat American superfish Michael Phelps in his pet event, the 200m butterfly.
D’Arcy produced a blistering final lap to pip the 14-time Olympic gold medallist by one one-hundredth of a second at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix in California yesterday.
It was a stunning swim by D’Arcy, who trailed Phelps for practically the entire race before pipping him at the final touch in a time of one minute and 55.39 seconds.
“I think you’ve got to take away plenty of confidence when you get the opportunity to get one up on possibly the greatest athlete that’s ever lived,” D’Arcy said.
“I consider myself honoured to be even mentioned in the same breath as him, so to get one up on him ... I think that’s really going to give me the drive to push forward to next year.”
D’Arcy’s Noosa-based coach, Brian Stehr, said beating Phelps would be a massive mental boost for D’Arcy in the lead-up to next year’s London Olympic Games.
“It was terrific, he’s in a great place right now,” Stehr said.
“That’s a great swim to be having right now.
“He’s in the middle of his final year at uni and is fairly all over the place as far as training is concerned.
“It’s hard to be consistent and he’s only one second outside his lifetime best.
“Phelps is way off his best and I don’t know if we’ll ever see his best again but it’s a big psychological advantage.”
Phelps led by nearly one second at the halfway mark of the race before D’Arcy made his move.
Phelps held a 0.66 of a second buffer at the final turn but D’Arcy saved his best until the end, swimming the final 50m in 29.78 seconds to beat Phelps by a fingernail.
It was D’Arcy’s first meet since his disastrous Commonwealth Games campaign last year, when he was eliminated in the first heat.
“Nick’s always had a good finish and he came over the top of Phelps in the final 50m,” Stehr said.
D’Arcy will swim at the national short course championships in Adelaide next week before heading back to the United States for the Los Angeles International.
Stehr said it was crucial for D’Arcy, who will not compete at the world championships, to get as much racing experience under his belt as possible.
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