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Ben Colley started his weekend of competition at the Phillips 66 National Championships with a tall task: Swimming in the 200-meter butterfly against 18-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Michael Phelps.
Colley, a Lafayette alumnus and current swimmer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, entered the event with the second fastest seed time of 1:56.54 and finished the event in 27th with a time of 2:00.20.
Competing in heat 11 of 12 in the 200-meter butterfly preliminaries, Colley stepped to the start block in lane four, which was right next to Phelps in lane three.
After a slow start off the blocks, Colley surged his way toward the front of the pack over the next 75 meters. By the 100-meter mark, Colley worked his way into second place and within a full body length of Phelps.
For the next 50 meters, Colley tried to keep pace with Phelps but was unable to close the gap. Colley’s comeback attempt slipped away as other swimmers kicked down the final 50 meters while his pace dipped.
Colley was passed by three swimmers during the final 50 meters of the race, finishing his heat in 5th place and 27th overall. During the Phillips 66 National Championships, the top 24 swimmers advance to the finals.
Colley will compete Saturday in the 100-meter butterfly; he entered the competition ranked 44th in the event.