Qingdao, Mar 21 (IANS): The 36-year-old, Wu Peng never expected to feel the nerves before he made his return to the pool after a 10-year hiatus from competition at the second-tier Chinese national spring swimming championships here.
Wu clocked a time of 23.81 seconds in 50m freestyle to secure a spot in the top-level National Championships in May, reports Xinhua.
"My last national competition was in 2013. I felt nervous before the race, and I could not sleep well last night. I felt rusty during the 50 meters, so I could not help taking several breaths. In fact, I should hold one breath during the whole race," Wu said.
"I tried to reduce my weight by about 6 or 7 kilograms but it was clearly not enough. I should swim more swiftly on the surface instead of diving under the water," said the man who ended Michael Phelps' nine-year undefeated streak in the 200m butterfly in USA national meets in 2011.
"My result in 50m freestyle was not as good as I expected, but fortunately, the time was good enough to qualify for the national championships. I have two more months to work on my physical training and endurance."
Wu will also compete in the 50m and 100m butterfly later during the week but will not defend his previous favorite event, the 200m butterfly, despite winning a silver and three bronze medals in World Championships between 2005 and 2013.
"The national record of 200m was still under my belt, but I will not try (to break) it anymore. I can only compete in the sprint events like 50m."
"My goal is to try to earn a ticket to the Asian Games to be held in my hometown Hangzhou in September. For the last 10 years, I was on the pool deck in the audience, but this time, I want to jump into the pool and compete again for my hometown," said Wu, who won three gold medals in the 2002 Busan Asian Games when he was 15.