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Phelps to swim last individual Olympic race

Friday, August 03, 2012 | 4:35 AM    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Michael Phelps got off to a slow start in the London Games. Now the most decorated Olympian in history is set to sprint to the finish in the last individual race of his career.

Phelps will swim the 100metre butterfly today, with a chance to add a second three-peat to his resume. He won his first individual gold in London in the 200 individual medley yesterday, making him the first man to win the same individual event at three consecutive Olympics.

"He didn't have it on his goal sheet, but for me that was important," Phelps' coach Bob Bowman said. "I always wanted him to do three just because that was cool."

Phelps can do it again in the 100m butterfly, going into the final with the fastest time of 50.86 seconds. He has no special strategy for the two-lap sprint.

"It's the 100," he explained. "You just kind of go for it and hopefully hang on."

Chad le Clos of South Africa, who out-touched Phelps to win the 200m butterfly, will be in the lane next to him as the second-quickest qualifier. Tyler McGill of the US and Milorad Cavic of Serbia are also medal contenders.

"Phelps is out of our league. It's not fair that I'm talking for everybody, but I'm expecting something special tomorrow," Cavic said. "I think he's going to go 50.5. I'm going to have to go 50.9 to assure myself a medal."

Phelps' fourth and final Olympics started out with a loss to rival Ryan Lochte in the 400 IM — "the big downer" Bowman called it.

But things quickly began looking up. He has two golds and two silvers in five races, with the 100m butterfly today and the 4x100 medley relay on Saturday before taking off his Olympic  suit, cap and goggles for the last time.

"He's gotten himself together," Bowman said. "Physically he's good and it lets us know he's going to be pretty good tomorrow and finish up strong."

Phelps has been more forthcoming as retirement draws closer. His emotions are closer to the surface, too, with tears welling in his eyes on the medals podium.

"Going into the relay, it'll probably kick into my head more and more," he said.

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