LONDON (AP) — Michael Phelps continues his back-to-the-future transition to old-style swimsuits when he leads an American team against the best swimmers from Britain, Italy and Germany in the so called "Duel in the Pool."
Phelps is the star attraction in Manchester for the short-course contest on Friday and Saturday, but is returning to Europe after a lackluster trip last month for World Cup meets.
A winner of a record eight Olympic gold medals at the Beijing Games last year, Phelps described the trans-Atlantic trip that yielded no victories — let alone records — as "pretty awful."
Phelps reverted to wearing old-style, textile knee-length suits that made him slower. But his rivals continued to swim in high-tech suits, which will be banned on Jan. 1.
This weekend, Phelps also will ditch the high-tech suit.
In the Manchester Aquatics Center where Ian Thorpe dominated at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Phelps will be competing for the first time in England as part of the 36-strong U.S. team.
"He is the kind of god in sport, isn’t he?" said Rebecca Adlington, the British Olympic 400 and 800-meter freestyle champion. "He’s just kind of the ultimate competitor … he is just absolutely unbelievable and for him to be able to come over here and compete and for us all to get a chance to see him in the flesh is just such a brilliant thing."
Adlington will be among the six female and six male swimmers from each of Britain, Germany and Italy making up a European side. There are 30 races, including four relays, over the two days with three swimmers from each team competing in each individual race.
Like Phelps, Adlington will be ditching the polyurethane-clad racing outfit before the FINA ban becomes compulsory.
"I’ve decided to wear the suit because for the rest of my swimming career, that’s the suit that I’m going to be wearing," Adlington said. "I might as well get used to it now. It seems silly to wear the old one at this point in my career. I’m quite comfortable in a knee suit so it’s not such a big thing.
"I haven’t really trained in it. "I’ve done a couple of lengths in it but nothing major, which is why I’m quite looking forward to trying it in a race."