IRVINE, Calif. — Matt Grevers won the 100m backstroke at the U.S. Championships on Saturday night, keeping Michael Phelps winless in three events at his first Nationals in two years.
Grevers, the Olympic and World champion, clocked 52.75 seconds, the third-fastest time in the world this year.
He qualified for the Pan Pacific Championships with the victory, which is particularly notable for the 6-foot-8 video game lover.
Four years ago, Grevers entered Nationals as the Olympic 100m back silver medalist and failed to make Pan Pacs, which also kept him out of the 2011 World Championships.
“I never had doubt in my swimming career until 2010, and it kind of changed me completely,” Grevers said. “From then on, no matter how good I feel, I’m always like, oh, it could happen again. So it’s good that it didn’t happen again, and I’m swimming pretty well.”
Phelps was sixth in 53.95 in the 100m back, an event he doesn’t swim often. He was also seventh in the 100m free and second in the 100m butterfly and has the 200m individual medley left Sunday.
Phelps has also already qualified for Pan Pacs, which would be his first major international meet since the London Olympics.
He said this meet, a mix of great, mediocre and poor swims, has been a learning experience and a new experience.
“Whatever I really put my mind to, I know I can accomplish,” Phelps said. “I’m not going to use the excuse of taking off a year and a half to two years.”
Missy Franklin won her fifth straight U.S. title in the women’s 100m back, clocking 59.38, the third-fastest time in the world this year.
She finished the meet with three wins and one second-place finish, behind Katie Ledecky in the 200m freestyle.
She was pleased with her overall performance, especially because she was coming off a college freshman season where she swam a lot of longer distances.
“Coming in your first big national meet with a brand-new coach, you’re definitely going to be tested,” Franklin said. “[California women’s coach] Teri [McKeever] and I are definitely still learning how I taper with her.”
In other events Saturday, Olympians Jessica Hardy and Micah Lawrence tied for the women’s 100m breaststroke title in 1:06.51.
Cody Miller stunned defending champion Kevin Cordes to win the men’s 100m breast in 59.91 for his first national title.