Favorites Phelps, Ledecky win first night of Orlando Pro Swim Series


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Conor Dwyer is not the headliner at the Arena Pro Swim Series, but he stole the spotlight from Michael Phelps on the first day of competition.

Dwyer, competing for the first time in 2016, used a tremendous burst on the final turn to blow past Dion Dreesens of the Netherlands and win the 200-meter freestyle. Dwyer finished in 1:46.9, more than a second ahead of Dreesens, who led the race for the first three laps.

"I like to come back and run guys down," Dwyer said. "I saw everyone's splits this morning and they were out a good bit faster than me so I wanted to get in their face and let them know I could bring it home. That's what happened."

Phelps and fellow Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky also won on the opening night of the event that is part of a seven-meet series to prepare swimmers for this June's Olympic qualifying. Phelps took the 100-meter butterfly and Ledecky, normally a distance swimmer, won the 200-meter freestyle.

Phelps nipped Tom Shields by .07 in the butterfly, but wasn't happy with his performance. The 18-time Olympic gold medal winner trailed Shields at the halfway point in the race, surged ahead in the next 25 meters, and barely held on for the win with a time of 52.28.

"If I had been under 52 (seconds), I would have been pumped but it's the little things that are making a big difference," Phelps said. "I'm really upset about the finish. Some of the butterfly sets I've done over the last four to five weeks have been really, really good, but I had no momentum at the finish tonight."

Ledecky swam against the toughest field of the night, with four other Olympians in the 200-meter race. She had the lead from start to finish, increasing her advantage at every turn. The 19-year-old from Capital Swim Club in Washington, D.C., swam a 1:55.73 to beat four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin by almost two seconds.

Franklin swam 1:57.67. Allison Schmitt, who has three Olympic gold medals, was third at 1:58.16.

"It always adds a little excitement when you get race Missy and Allison," Ledecky said. "I'm learning a lot about shorter races and it's a matter of getting more comfortable with the distance. I'm pleased with how I put it all together."

The three-day meet concluded Saturday, March 5.