Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Swimming and Diving [Print without images]

Sunday, March 11, 2012
Updated: March 13, 10:41 AM ET
Michael Phelps takes 100 free

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Michael Phelps knows if he can compete with his times from four years ago, he's got a good chance of holding off the rest of the top swimmers in the world.

Phelps capped a prosperous weekend by winning the 100-meter freestyle on Sunday at the Columbus Grand Prix, recording the second-best time in the world this year.

"I wanted to swim a good 100 and see where we were," he said. "I could compare where we are now compared to four years ago this time leading into (Olympic) trials. I'm happy, and hopefully this will set up a good 100 down the road or at trials. Who knows?"

A winner of eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008 and a total of 14 golds overall, Phelps was timed in 48.49 seconds to easily beat Nicolas Oliveira.

Phelps set the meet record four years ago at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion when he was timed in 48.41. He pronounced himself pleased with his progress this year, after spending much of the last three years unfocused and unmotivated after his banner 2008.

"The only thing I need to do right now is continue what I'm doing. I can't have any more hiccups," the Baltimore native said. "Training does help and it does work and I can see that. The last three weeks we put in some good training and it showed here. Things are heading in the right direction. We just have to keep everything going."

Phelps won all three finals in which he competed, setting meet records in the first two in the three-day competition at Ohio State's pool. He also was scheduled to swim in the 200 backstroke on Sunday but elected to drop out to save himself for the 100 free.

He has already said this summer's Olympics in London will be his last.

"I want to be able to go out and end my career by doing everything I wanted to do," he said. "If I continue to train the next couple of months, I'll be able to do that."

In another highlighted race full of top swimmers, Allison Schmitt sprinted to a meet-record 54.77 seconds in the women's 100 free, beating fellow Olympians Natalie Coughlin, Zsuzsanna Jakobos (from Hungary) and Christine Magnuson.

Schmitt, a native of Canton, Mich., was proud she won a shorter distance where she usually doesn't excel.

"It's a really short race for me, so I was just going in there sprinting," she said. "It's not my best event but I guess I can swim it."

Coughlin, a three-time gold-medal winner from Vallejo, Calif., finished second in 55.74.

"I was joking with Schmittie. I said, 'I didn't see you over there! I really thought I had it. Darn you!'" Coughlin said with a laugh.

Coughlin had won in meet-record times on Friday and Saturday nights and said she was satisfied with her performance in the pool after a hectic training schedule.

She also expressed her admiration for the hard-charging Schmitt.

"Schmittie is one of the most lovable people on the team and she has had such a good year," Coughlin said. "Not only is she doing well in her signature events, not just her freestyles, but she's really coming on strong in the sprint freestyles, the flys -- she's pretty much kicked butt in everything she's raced."

Gillian Ryan of Kutztown, Pa., captured the women's 800 free in 8:29.25. Jakabos set the night's first meet record with a 2:11.98 in the 200 medley with Coughlin second, and Mexico's Maria Gonzalez Ramirez was first in 200 back in 2:10.75.

A night after nearly blacking out from going out too fast in a race, Matt Grevers of Lake Forest, Ill., won the men's 200 back with a meet-record time of 1:57.59, also the second-fastest time of 2012.

Mexico's Arturo Verti closed the meet by winning the 1,500 free in 15:30.69.

Columbus is the fourth of seven stops on the USA Swimming Grand Prix Series, with the next event March 29-31 in Indianapolis.