By Steve Keating
OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Michael Phelps gave the home fans one last thrill when he touched first in the 100 meters butterfly at the U.S. Olympic trials on Saturday in his final race in an American pool.
The world record holder and three-time Olympic champion in the event, Phelps would not be denied a winning sendoff as he charged to the wall to the roar of a capacity crowd in a time of exactly 51 seconds, just ahead of Tom Shields.
With his trials over, Phelps now heads to Rio for what he says will be his fifth and final Games qualified in three events; the 100 and 200 butterfly and 200 individual medley, and ready to add to his staggering record total of 22 Olympic medals.
"Bob (coach Bowman) asked me what the game plan was tonight and I said, 'I don't want to lose my last race on American soil'," said Phelps.
"There's been a lot of history here and 51 (seconds) is OK but it's going to take more than that to win a gold medal."
While Phelps came through with the victory almost everyone at the packed CenturyLink Center wanted to see, Katie Ledecky cruised to a commanding win in the women's 800 meters freestyle but could not deliver the first world record at the trials that many expected.
After clocking the third fastest time ever in the event during Thursday's preliminaries, the Olympic and world champion looked primed to eclipse her own world mark of 8:06.81.
Ledecky went out in world record pace but faded on the back half and finished in 8:10.32, a comfortable 10 seconds clear of her nearest challenger Leah Smith.
(Editing by Andrew Both)