Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps takes third; Conor Dwyer takes BMW

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Michael Phelps‘ loss at the Santa Clara Grand Prix was a big, big gain for training partner Conor Dwyer.

Dwyer erased a .25 of a second deficit on Phelps in the final 50 meters to win the 200m individual medley on Sunday, the meet’s final day. Phelps, in his third meet since taking 20 months off after the 2012 Olympics, fell to third behind Chase Kalisz.

Dwyer out touched Kalisz, 1:59.49 to 1:59.53 (video here). Phelps came in at 1:59.76 in his first 200m IM final since winning his third straight Olympic gold in the event in London.

The victory carried added significance for Dwyer. NBC Olympics and Universal Sports analyst Rowdy Gaines informed Dwyer before the final that if he won he would earn an extra $20,000 and a one-year use of a BMW as the overall Grand Prix series champion.

“I’m never racing for money, but I guess it was a nice reminder,” Dwyer said on Universal Sports. “A little extra incentive right there.”

Phelps swam more at the Santa Clara Grand Prix than at his previous two comeback meets combined. He also tied for the win in the 100m butterfly and finished second to the Olympic champions in the 100m and 200m freestyles.

“He’s light years ahead of where we started,” said Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s only going to get better.”

Time will tell if Phelps goes with these four events moving forward, but he’s already among the top Americans two months into his competitive comeback. Here’s where he ranks on U.S. lists for 2014:

100m Freestyle
1. Nathan Adrian — 48.08
2. Michael Phelps — 48.8

200m Freestyle
1. Conor Dwyer — 1:47.86
2. Michael Phelps — 1:48.2

100m Butterfly
1. Ryan Lochte — 51.93
T2. Michael Phelps — 52.11
T2. Tom Shields — 52.11

200m IM
1. Conor Dwyer — 1:59.49
2. Chase Kalisz — 1:59.53
3. Michael Phelps — 1:59.76

U.S. swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10 and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, later in August.

Phelps could compete again before Nationals, reportedly in Athens, Ga., in three weeks.

In other finals Sunday, Missy Franklin notched her second victory in four events this weekend, earning the 100m backstroke title in 1:00.99 (video here). She also won the 200m free and was third in the 200m back Saturday and second in the 100m free Friday.

Franklin, who became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships last year, veered toward the edge of her lane line like she did in the 200m back Saturday.

“I happy I didn’t slam into it like I did last night,” said a smiling, laughing Franklin, a rising sophomore at California. “So I’ll totally take it.”

Three-time Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin, who may soon switch countries, beat Olympic champion Matt Grevers in the 100m back, 54.34 to 54.95.

Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz won the 200m IM in 2:12.61.

U.S. champion Kevin Cordes completed a breaststroke sweep, capturing the 100m breast in 1:00.91. Laura Sogar prevailed in the women’s 100m breast in 1:09.15.

Two-time South African Olympian Sebastien Rousseau took the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:58.50. Venezuelan Olympian Adreina Pinto won the women’s 200m fly in 2:10.59.

Rising college freshman Cierra Runge won the women’s 800m free in 8:26.71.

Katie Ledecky breaks another world record Sunday

Paralympic swimmer disqualified for Olympic rings tattoo

Josef Craig
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British Paralympic champion Josef Craig was disqualified from a race because he didn’t cover up an Olympic rings tattoo on his chest at the IPC European Championships on Sunday.

Craig, 19, was disqualified because of an International Paralympic Committee swimming rule that states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

Craig, who did not have the tattoo when he took gold at London 2012, has since competed at the European Championships with the Olympic rings tattoo covered.

If people attend the Paralympics, which are held weeks after the Olympics at the same venues, they will very often see the Paralympic Agitos logo where the Olympic logo once appeared.

It is visual proof that the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are separate entities.

At the London Paralympics, American Rudy Garcia-Tolson earned silver in a 200m individual medley with an Olympic rings tattoo visible near his left shoulder-blade.

An IPC spokesperson said the rule pertaining to the Paralympics — which covers all sports — was new going into 2012 and will be fully enforced for the first time in Rio.

MORE: London gymnastics medalist gets elaborate Olympic tattoo

Missy Franklin reads emotional letter to parents (video)

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Missy Franklin broke into tears reading a letter to her parents in a mock press conference in a spot for Minute Maid, one of the four-time Olympic champion’s sponsors since turning professional a year ago.

It was filmed in April near her home in Denver.

Franklin has split time training and competing and working with companies including GoPro, Laureus, Minute Maid, Speedo, United Airlines, Visa and Wheaties.

Franklin has said the sponsor commitments will curtail in the middle of May, when she starts a blackout period to focus on training for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are June 26-July 3 in Omaha and air on NBC Sports.

VIDEO: Franklin revisits ‘biggest sacrifice’ in GoPro series finale