Michael Phelps breezed to a victory at the U.S. Winter Nationals on Thursday night, but he knows more unfamiliar and perhaps more difficult tasks lie ahead.
Such as changing diapers.
“There are many things that could happen while changing a diaper, so if I can get in and get out safely, that’s all that matters,” Phelps joked in an interview with Carolyn Manno after winning the 200m individual medley in Federal Way, Wash.
Phelps, the 22-time Olympic medalist, is competing for the first time since he and fiancée Nicole Johnson announced they are expecting a baby.
Johnson was in attendance Thursday night to watch a clean-shaven Phelps prevail in 1:57.61, which is 1.69 seconds faster than his time at a meet in Minneapolis three weeks ago when he raced with a full beard.
Training partner Chase Kalisz was second in 1:58.77. World champion Ryan Lochte is not competing in Federal Way. Full Thursday results are here.
“The time was fine,” Phelps, who owns the fastest time in the world this year at 1:54.75 from August, told Manno. “The biggest thing is just being able to move forward throughout the season to really, hopefully set up a good time for Olympic trials [in late June/early July].”
Winter Nationals run through Saturday and will be streamed live the next two days on USASwimming.org/Nationals. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage Sunday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET.
In other events Thursday, longtime Phelps training partner Allison Schmitt swam her fastest 400m freestyle since she captured a 2012 Olympic silver medal in the event.
Schmitt, who failed to make this year’s World Championships team, touched in 4:06.88, ranking her third among Americans this year behind World champion Katie Ledecky (3:59.13) and Leah Smith (4:04.66). Neither Ledecky nor Smith is swimming at this weekend’s meet.
The top two at the U.S. Olympic trials on June 27 make the Rio Olympic team. Ledecky appears to be a lock for one of the berths.
Favorites Nathan Adrian and Simone Manuel swept the 50m freestyles Thursday. Neither bettered their nation-leading times from earlier this year. Missy Franklin clocked the 11th fastest time overall in the women’s 50m free, an event in which she’s not expected to vie for an Olympic spot.
Olympian Conor Dwyer took the men’s 400m free in 3:48.11, which was not an improvement on his best time this year. Connor Jaeger is the fastest American in the event for 2015 at 3:44.81. Dwyer is ranked No. 5.
In the women’s 200m IM, Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz was out-touched by Maya DiRado, 2:11.10 to 2:11.79. DiRado, the World silver medalist in the 400m IM, is ranked No. 4 in the world this year in the 200m IM and looking to make her first Olympic team next year.
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