Michael Phelps, still smarting after America's upset loss to South Africa in the 400 freestyle relay, returned to the pool Monday and qualified
fastest for the Olympic 200-meter butterfly.
Phelps' quest to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games was dashed with the Americans' bronze medal in the relay
Sunday night. The South Africans won gold in a world-record time and the Netherlands took silver.
"We really wanted that relay," Phelps said.
Phelps can still tie Spitz's elusive mark if he wins his four remaining individual races and swims on the other two relays. The 19-year-old from
Baltimore has one gold so far, in the 400 individual medley.
"It's not disappointing for me," he said of the 400 relay loss. "This was a team thing."
The American women all advanced to evening semifinals.
Dana Vollmer and Lindsay Benko of Los Angeles qualified for the 200 freestyle, while Amanda Beard of Irvine, Calif., and Katie Hoff of Abingdon, Md.,
advanced in the 200 individual medley.
Phelps came from behind in his 200 fly preliminary heat, winning in 1 minute, 57.36 seconds. He tied Takashi Yamamoto of Japan for first among 16
qualifiers heading into the evening semifinal.
"It was a little hard after last night," he said. "It took a lot out of me emotionally, for sure. I wanted a strong one this morning."
Yamamoto swam next to Phelps, but he wasn't paying attention. "I'm just hoping to qualify for the final," he said.
Phelps is the world-record holder in the event. Four years ago, he finished fifth in the 200 fly — his only event at the Sydney Games.
Bob Bowman, Phelps' coach, advised him to forget about the relay defeat, even though the other Americans were still hashing it over.