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Phelps locks in 5th Olympics

Associated Press Associated Press 30/06/2016 By Paul Newberry

Michael Phelps is heading back to the Olympics and will break another record just by competing in the Rio Games pool.

Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, held off a stiff challenge from Tom Shields to win the 200m butterfly at the US swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday night.

Phelps whipped around to look at his time - a bit slower than he probably would've liked - and held up all five fingers on his right hand.

Yep, it's Olympics No.5, making him the first male swimmer to compete in that many Summer Games.

"I think that means the most tonight," Phelps said. "Just being able to finish how I want to is so important to me. Getting on this team is what I wanted to do."

Phelps reflected on his stumbles since the 2012 London Olympics, most notably a second drunken driving arrest that prompted him to take a whole new look at his life.

He reconnected with his long-estranged father, got engaged, gave up alcohol and committed himself to closing his career with a flourish.

"With everything that's happened and being able to come back, that was probably harder than any swim I've had in my life," said Phelps, who had seven-week old son Boomer in the stands. "It's probably more nerve-wracking here than it is at the Olympics."

Phelps, who retired after the last Olympics but soon reversed his decision, took Wednesday's 200 fly final in 1:54.84 - far off the world record of 1:51.51 he set at the 2009 world championships while wearing one of the high-tech suits that have since been banned.

Already the winner of 22 Olympic medals, including 18 gold, Phelps will head to Rio looking to reclaim the title he won in 2004 and defended in 2008 but surrendered to South African Chad le Clos in 2012.

He has trimmed back his program for Rio, scratching from the 100m and 200m freestyle, but will also try to qualify in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

Another Olympic great, Missy Franklin turned in one of the gutsiest performances of her career to earn a spot for Rio in the 200m freestyle.

One night after she struggled to seventh in the 100m backstroke - an event she won four years ago in London - there was plenty of speculation that she'd be hard-pressed to qualify for any individual events at these games.

Franklin herself sounded as though she'd be happy just getting on the team as a relay swimmer.

Turns out, she'll be busier than that in Brazil.

While Katie Ledecky romped to victory in the 200 free, earning a second individual event at the Olympics, Franklin rallied to claim the runner-up spot.

Ledecky touched in 1:54.88, following up her easy victory in the 400 free.

"Last night was really tough and coming back from that, I was telling myself, 'I'm not done fighting. I'm not done with believing in myself,"' Franklin said.

"That's probably the most proud race I've ever swam in my entire career, coming back from such a loss last night and telling myself that I still have it in me to do whatever I believe I can do."

Franklin touched in 1:56.18, edging out Leah Smith by just under a half-second.

Allison Schmitt, the reigning Olympic champion, settled for fourth but that will at least be good enough to get another star from the London Games on the team as a relay swimmer.

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