MICHAEL Phelps secured a fourth straight Olympic berth in the 200m butterfly on Thursday, cruising to victory at the US trials in an event he has long dominated.
Phelps, who has held the world record in the 200m fly since he first broke it at the age of 15 in 2001, will have a chance at a third straight gold medal in the event at the London Games.
Trailing Davis Tarwater at the first two turns, Phelps turned it on heading into the final turn and powered home to win by a body length in 1min 53.65sec.
"It's not a good enough time to win a gold medal, but I think I'm OK with it," Phelps said, although it was the fastest time posted so far this Olympic season.
Behind him, Tyler Clary won a furious race for second place -- and the other London Games berth on offer -- rallying to claim second in 1:55.12s ahead of Bobby Bollier and Tarwater.
Clary, who missed out on a trip to London as he finished third in the 400m medley behind Ryan Lochte and Phelps, pounded the water in celebration when he saw he was headed to the Olympics.
"It was amazing," Clary said. "I can't even put into words how the end of that race felt, not only the pain in the last 20 meters but just the complete and total turnaround.
"I'm on cloud nine right now," he said.
Phelps stayed on track to repeat the eight-race programme he swam in Beijing, where he won an unprecedented eight gold medals in one Games to take his tally of gold to 14.
Midway through the eight-day selection meeting he has qualified in the 400m medley, 200m freestyle and 200m fly, with the 100m fly and 200m medley still to come and three relay spots likely on the cards.
"That was the best my stroke's felt throughout the meet," said Phelps, who has stepped up his training after a post-Beijing lull.
Allison Schmitt, who trains with Phelps and coach Bob Bowman at North Baltimore, added another race to her Olympic programme, winning the 200m freestyle in 1:54.40s.
That's the fastest in the world this year, improving on the 1:54.66s posted by France's Camille Muffat.
Teen sensation Missy Franklin, fifth at the first turn, surged to second to add the event to a London schedule that already includes the 100m backstroke.
In the day's other final, Caitlin Leverenz won the women's 200m individual medley in 2:10.22s to give herself a shot at a medley double in London. Ariana Kukors, who set the world record in the event in 2009, before high-tech bodysuits were banned, finished second to seize an Olympic berth. AFP