Michael Phelps was Monday on course to become the first person to win the same Olympic swimming event three times in a row as he advanced to the semifinals of the men’s 200 metre butterfly.

Although the US superstar, who has 17 Olympic medals (14 gold, one silver and two bronze) finished third in his heat behind Austrian Dinko Jukic and compatriot Tyler Clary, his time of 1 minute 55.53 seconds was the fifthfastest.

Jukic topped the standings with 1:54.79, followed by Clary, who was 0.17 slower.

Serbian Velimir Sthepanovic was third-fastest, with South African Chad le Clos swimming the fourth-fastest time.

In the women’s 200m freestyle event 2008 champion Federica Pellegrini comfortably advanced to Monday evening’s semifinals with the fastest time.

The Italian, who also holds the world record, won her heat in a time of 1:57.16, beating US teenager Missy Franklin, who was 0.46 slower.

Allison Schmitt, who won the silver medal over 400m freestyle, had the second-fastest time as she won her heat. France’s Camille Muffat, who on Sunday beat Schmitt to the gold in the 400m, advanced to the semi—finals with the 12th-fastest time.

The other event in the morning session in the Aquatic Centre in the Olympic Park was the heats in the women’s 200m medley, featuring Chinese sensation Ye Shiwen, who on Saturday won the 400m medley in world record time.

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