Irvine - Olympic great Michael Phelps settled for silver in the 100m butterfly at the US Swimming Championships on Friday, falling by one one-hundredth of a second to Tom Shields.
Hours after throwing down the fastest time in the world this year of 51.17sec in qualifying, Phelps let the tension of the final -- and the pressure of trying to qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships -- get to him just a little.
He mistimed his turn, just a little, and it cost him on the closing leg when his trademark late surge wasn't enough to carry him past Shields, who won in 51.29sec to Phelps's 51.30.
Tim Phillips was third in 51.54.
"I knew once I hit my 16th stroke and I was still a little long going into that wall, I knew it just killed all my momentum," said Phelps, who is swimming in just his fourth meet since coming out of a near two-year retirement in April.
"I need more training, I need more endurance, I need more comfort with my stroke," he added.
Coach Bob Bowman said he thought Phelps looked uptight before the race -- something that was never an issue when Phelps was the dominant swimmer in the world, putting together a career that included 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold.
"It's not fitness, it's the knowledge that he's getting up here against these guys that are on fire and he knows what he's done to get here, and it ain't what he used to do to get here," Bowman said.
As the second-place finisher, Phelps will likely still qualify for the US team for the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia August 21-25.
The pressure was on after he failed to punch his PanPacs ticket in the 100m free on Wednesday with a seventh-placed finish.
Results at this meet and the PanPacs will determine the US team for the 2015 world championships and Phelps made it clear both were on his radar.
"I cannot stand to lose," Phelps said. "So this will definitely motivate me over the next couple weeks to prepare ourselves for PanPacs and then this will definitely be something that sticks with me over the next year leading up to hopefully world championships."
Phelps's final time was still third-fastest in the world this year -- and Bowman believes he can improve.
"He'll get better in the next two weeks," Bowman said. "He gets better every day."
Tyler Clary won the men's 400m individual medley in the second-fastest time in the world this year, 4:09.51.
Only Japan's Kosuke Hagino in 4:07.88 has gone faster in 2014.
Clary, the 2012 Olympic 200m backstroke champion, built a big lead over the opening butterfly and backstroke legs.
Chase Kalisz reeled him in on the breaststroke but didn't have enough to get past Clary on the closing freestyle and was second in 4:11.52. Josh Prenot was third in 4:14.85.
Elizabeth Beisel won the 400m individual medley, putting behind her a disappointment in the 200m backstroke in which her foot slipped at the start and she finished sixth.
Kendyl Stewart won the women's 100m fly, overhauling Claire Donahue on the second lap to win in 57.98sec.
Results of finals on Friday, the third day of the US Swimming Championships:
400m individual medley
1. Tyler Clary 4min 09.51sec, 2. Chase Kalisz 4:11.52, 3. Josh Prenot 4:14.85, 4. Jay Litherland 4:14.93, 5. Andrew Seliskar 4:16.73, 6. Michael Weiss 4:16.97, 7. Max Williamson 4:18.17, 8. Curtis Ogren 4:21.38
1. Tom Shields 51.29sec, 2. Michael Phelps 51.30, 3. Tim Phillips 51.54, 4. Matt Ellis 51.73, 5. Ryan Lochte 51.21, 6. Giles Smith 52.51, 7. Matthew Josa 52.57, 8. Santo Condorelli 52.88
1. Brendan McHugh 27.24, 2. Kevin Cordes 27.33, 3. Zach Hayden 27.69, 4. Marcus Titus 27.76, 5. Jared Anderson 27.91, 6. Mike Alexandrov 28.00, 7. Nicolas Fink 28.01, 8. Kameron Chastain 28.21
1. David Plummer 24.82, 2. Nick Thoman 24.91, 3. Shane Ryan 24.97, 4. Matt Grevers 25.18, 5. Kyle Darmody 25.32, 6. Eugene Godsoe 25.48, 7. James Wells 25.55, 8. Adam Mania 25.74
400m individual medley
1. Elizabeth Beisel 4:32.98, 2. Maya DiRado 4:35.75, 3. Melanie Margalis 4:37.84, 4. Becca Mann 4:41.44, 5. Cammile Adams 4:42.00, 6. Sarah Henry 4:42.31, 7. Caitlin Leverenz 4:43.23, 8. Kate Mills 4:44.41
1. Kendyl Stewart 57.98, 2. Claire Donahue 58.03, 3. Felicia Lee 58.14, 4. Katie McLaughlin 59.03, 5. Tina Bechtel 59.05, 6. Kelsi Worrell 59.34, 7. Gia Dalesandro 59.35, 8. Shannon Vreeland 1:00.00
1. Jessica Hardy 30.12, 2. Breeja Larson 30.64, 3. (tied) Micah Lawrence 31.00 and Katie Meili 31.00, 5. Kasey Carlson 31.02, 6. Kaylin Burchell 31.22, 7. Bethany Galat 31.45, 8. Molly Hannis 31.61
1. Rachel Bootsma 28.35, 2. Cheyenne Coffman 28.42, 3. Olivia Smoliga 28.49, 4. Ali Deloof 28.70, 5. Elizabeth Pelton 28.85, 6. (tied) Hanna Stevens 29.00 and Courtney Bartholomew 29.00, 8. Sarah Denninghoff 29.01