Michael Phelps after finishing second in the men's 100 fly at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps after finishing second in the men's 100 fly at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Swimming

Michael Phelps as work in progress

Michael Phelps had it Friday morning, turning in a sensational prelim swim. He didn’t quite have it Friday night when it counted, losing by one-hundredth of a second in the 100 butterfly to Tom Shields at the U.S. national championships in Irvine, California.

The upshot: Phelps is back on the national team. For him, for the U.S. team, for swimming in general, that’s all good. Now, though, the real work begins. As Bob Bowman, his longtime coach, said Friday night, “I think he needs to go home and put in some more practices.”

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Swimming

For one night, no Phelps magic

Before Michael Phelps had won even the first of his 22 Olympic medals he was, in 2003, the United States men’s national champion in the 100-meters freestyle.

The circle turns. It’s back to the future. Pick your metaphor as the 2014 U.S. nationals got underway in earnest Wednesday in Irvine, California, with Phelps stepping to the blocks for the finals of the 100 free.

Left to right: Christian Taylor, Sanya Richards-Ross, Wallace Spearmon, Morgan Uceny, Leo Manzano at Friday's news conference

Left to right: Christian Taylor, Sanya Richards-Ross, Wallace Spearmon, Morgan Uceny, Leo Manzano at Friday's news conference

Track and field

Relay this, out-of-the-box thinkers

NASSAU, Bahamas — The first race has not even been run. Action gets underway Saturday at jam-packed Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.

But, already, barring a security breach or unforeseen disaster, this inaugural edition of the IAAF World Relays can already be proclaimed a fantastic success.

Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen Eaton after practice at Westmont College

Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen Eaton after practice at Westmont College

Track and field

Living in the moment: track’s It Couple

The world’s greatest athlete is taking his first outdoor runs of the season in the pole vault.

His coach, Harry Marra, is here, of course, at the Westmont College track, in the hills above Santa Barbara, California. His wife, Brianne, herself the reigning indoor and outdoor silver medalist in the women’s versions of the all-around event, is here, too, practicing her javelin throws and running some hard sprints.

Michael Phelps diving in for his first race back -- over Ryan Lochte, who would go on to win the 100 fly final later Thursday night // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps diving in for his first race back -- over Ryan Lochte, who would go on to win the 100 fly final later Thursday night // photo Getty Images

Swimming

Phelps having fun, and it’s all good

Thirty years ago, amid the delivery of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, which proved a huge success, Peter Ueberroth reminded the world of a classic strategy. It works in business. It works in sports. Really, it’s the best strategy for pretty much everything.

You under-promise and then you over-deliver.