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Park Plumps For June Test With Phelps

Mar 18, 2011  - Craig Lord

Gold and silver medallists in the 200m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Michael Phelps (USA) and Park Tae-hwan (KOR) are scheduled for a warm-up clash at the Santa Clara International in California in June, the management company in charge of the Korean Olympic 400m free champion's affairs, announced today.

The event, starting June 16, is the seventh and final leg of the 2010-11 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series and will serve as Park's last test before world championships in Shanghai from July 24. The race is also likely to include Ryan Lochte, though entries have not been finalised and much water will pass under the bridge between now and then.

Park changed his race plans to enter the Santa Clara meet specifically so that he could race Phelps, an SK Telekom spokesman told Korean journalists. He had originally intended to travel to the US in May but Michael Bohl, Park’s Australian coach at Brisbane, spotted the June chance to take on Phelps before Shanghai.

The last time they met was in Rome at 2009 world titles but Park was washed away in suit wars and did not make the final of a race won by Paul Biedermann (GER) in a world record of 1:42.00 ahead of Phelps. That clash was followed swiftly by a FINA decision to set January 1, 2010 as the date by which all non-textile suits would be banned.

Here's how the Phelps Vs Park bout unfolded in Beijing, both boys in LZRs:

  • Phelps: 24.31; 50.29; 1:16.84; 1:42.96 
  • Park:    24.91; 51.54; 1:18.68; 1:44.85

Home-coming splits - 52.67 for Phelps; 53.31 for Park

In California and Shanghai, Park, who last raced at the Asian Games, where he claimed the 200m and 400m crowns among seven medals, will focus on the 200m and 400m freestyle, while Phelps is scheduled to race medley, butterfly and relays as well as the 200m on June 18.

At the Indianapolis Grand Prix this month, Phelps shot back to prominence with a set of back-to-form performances, including a 1:46.27 win over 200m freestyle. 

Park, who won the Asian Games 200m free crown in 1:44.80 - best in the world last year and only sub 1:45 effort - and also led the world rankings in the 400m, on 3:41.53, in 2010, will take a week-long break at home in Korea in the first week of April before heading back to Bohl for his countdown preparations for Shanghai world titles.