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SWIMMING: PHELPS, VENDT HIT THE POOL.

Byline: ERIK BOAL Special to the Daily News

LONG BEACH -- Michael Phelps hadn't done a workout session at Belmont Plaza since July 2004, just days after his historical performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the nearby outdoor Aquatic Centre.

Erik Vendt hadn't competed in the Olympic pool in Long Beach since winning three titles at the 2003 Pacific-10 Conference finals his senior year at USC.

But two of the United States' most decorated male swimmers, and Club Wolverine teammates, were feeling nostalgic Friday as they prepared to race in the Long Beach Grand Prix, which runs through Monday, speaking of those past competitions like they were yesterday.

``It brings back really fond memories,'' said Vendt, a two-time Olympian and 2002 NCAA Swimmer of the Year. ``It's just great to be back.''

Vendt is one of 16 U.S. Olympians scheduled to swim at the short-course competition, which is one of two tune-up meets for members of the U.S. national team before the March 25-April 1 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

Phelps, Vendt and former USC standout Kaitlin Sandeno participated in a recent 18-day training session at 6,500 feet in Mexico, before arriving Thursday in Southern California.

``Coming down from altitude, I've always had success,'' said Phelps, holder of three American short-course records. ``We're less than 60days away from Melbourne, so this meet is really all about seeing where we are. A meet of this caliber, with athletes like this, it's almost like swimming NCAAs.''

Former USC standouts Klete Keller, Tamas Kerekjarto, and Ous Mellouli are scheduled to race, along with UCLA's Kim Vandenberg.

erik.boal@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 13, 2007
Words:279
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