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Associated Press
Nathan Adrian touches first in the men’s 100-meter freestyle final at the U.S. nationals of swimming Wednesday in Irvine, Calif.

Phelps 7th in 100 at US nationals

– Nathan Adrian led all the way to win the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. national championships, with Michael Phelps finishing next-to-last in a star-studded field of eight.

Adrian touched in 48.31 seconds on Wednesday night, winning the event for the sixth time in seven years. Ryan Lochte was second in 48.96 swimming in the far outside lane. Jimmy Feigen finished third in 48.98.

Phelps was last at the turn and straggled home in 49.17, beating only Seth Stubblefield. It was Phelps’ worst showing since launching a comeback in April. He is focused on shorter and fewer events than what he did in winning 18 Olympic gold medals.

Conor Dwyer took fourth, joining the top three on the U.S. team for the Pan Pacific championships this month in Australia.

“That group of eight guys is much faster than what we showed,” Adrian said.

Phelps is facing his toughest competition yet three months after returning to the pool.

The most decorated Olympian in history has three other events in which to qualify for Pan Pacs. His last long-course national title in the 100 free came in 2005.

Adrian and Phelps swam next to each other. After the race, Phelps told Adrian, “Man, I missed the wall.”

Adrian replied, “Good thing you’re the best swimmer of all time. You’re going to get on the team.”

The men’s 100 final featured seven Olympians, including five who own individual gold medals.

“It’s insane the quality of swimmer it took to make the top eight,” Adrian said. “There were even some medalists outside the top eight. It’s never easy to make a U.S. team no matter who you are or where you’re at in your career.”

Olympian Cullen Jones was relegated to the B final, where he finished third.

In the women’s 100 free, Missy Franklin surged over the last lap to win in 53.43, tying for the fifth-fastest time in the world this year. Simone Manuel, the quickest qualifier in morning preliminaries with a career-best time, finished second in 53.66. Franklin was third at the turn, behind leader Manuel and Natalie Coughlin.

The final featured four Olympians – Franklin, Coughlin, Shannon Vreeland and Amanda Weir. Vreeland was third in 54.14, Coughlin finished seventh and Weir was last.

Abbey Weitzeil, a 17-year-old Californian, took fourth, ensuring a trip to her first major international meet.

Olympic champion Katie Ledecky earned her third straight national title in the 800 free with a time of 8 minutes, 18.47 seconds – well off her world-record time of 8:11.00 set last month at a meet in Texas. Cierra Runge was second in 8:24.69 and 16-year-old open-water national champion Becca Mann finished third in 8:26.64.

Open-water Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson was fifth and two-time Olympian Chloe Sutton ended up seventh.

Tom Shields led all the way to win the 200 butterfly in 1:55.09, third-fastest in the world this year. His early speed held up over Olympian Tyler Clary, who took second in 1:56.00.

Olympian Cammile Adams won the 200 fly in 2:07.12.

Defending champion and Olympian Connor Jaeger easily won the 1,500 free, cruising to the wall in 14:51.06, fourth-quickest in the world. Michael McBroom was second in 14:56.17.

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