Phelps swims to victory in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA: Olympic superstar Michael Phelps had a lot more trouble with the cold weather than with his competitors at the Santa Clara Invitational swim meet.

Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly by more than 5 1/2 seconds, racing away from the rest of the field to set a meet record of 1 minute, 54.31 seconds - fourth fastest in the world this year.

But then came the toughest part of his evening. Meet officials could not find his clothes, and the swimmer who captured eight gold medals at the Beijing Games last August stood shivering in the chilly air for several minutes with only a large white towel to protect him from the elements.

"It's cold out here, I'm freezing,'' Phelps said. "It's windy and chilly."

While the water is kept at a comfortable competition temperature, Phelps said he could feel the wind in his face during the last half of the race.

"I felt the wind the third 50 (meters)," he said. "Coming off the 100 wall I was feeling, 'Ooh, this is not good.'"

While Phelps had the most dominant victory Friday night, he was not the biggest winner.

That honor went to American Dana Vollmer, who won the women's 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly, and then added her third gold medal of the evening by swimming the anchor leg on the winning 4x100m freestyle relay.

Australia's Meagen Nay won the 400m freestyle, took the bronze medal in the 100m freestyle and added a relay silver medal.

She has had a strong showing on the Australian team's US tour, with seven gold medals at a meeting in Arizona last weekend.

Her teammate Leisel Jones broke her own 2-year-old meet record with a winning performance of 2:23.92 in the 200m breaststroke.

Jones, a six-time Olympic medalist, is skipping the world championships this summer to focus on beauty school. She hopes to open her own salon later this year back home in Australia.

"Waxing, nails, massage, hair - it's a nice way to break up swimming. They're totally different people from athletes," she said of beauty school. "Australians love their day spas."

Katie Hoff, who won three medals for the US at the Beijing Games, pulled out of the 400m freestyle final with a bad cough and her coach, Bob Bowman, said she would skip the final two days of the meet.

Other swimmers might be coughing soon, too, after an unseasonably cold, windy evening.

"It was tough, especially with the wind," said Australia's Brenton Rickard, who won the men's 100m breaststroke. "It kind of slaps you in the face with every breath you take."

The meeting continues on Saturday.