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Michael Andrew races to fourth title in Irvine

The sport of swimming might have another Michael in the spotlight.

With Michael Phelps retired after a historic Olympic career, 19-year-old Michael Andrew put on a show at the Phillips 66 National Championships, suggesting he might be the next king of the pool.

Andrew raced to victory in the 50-meter freestyle Sunday evening, capturing his fourth title in six events at the Irvine meet.

“The entire nationals have been incredible,” he said.

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If the Kansas native sounded surprised, he might have been the only one.

After turning professional at 14 — and signing numerous sponsorship deals — Andrew spent the last five years breaking age-group records and winning junior world titles.

His busy schedule at the Woollett Aquatics Center began Thursday with a victory in the 50-meter butterfly. Then, on Friday, he swam three finals in the space of about an hour.

After a third-place finish in the 100-meter butterfly, he won the 50-meter breaststroke and then took fourth in the 50-meter backstroke.

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On Saturday, he won the 100-meter breaststroke, saying: “It felt perfect from the beginning … I’m super stoked about it.”

Sunday’s freestyle race had him facing Caeleb Dressel, the rivals swimming side by side in the middle of the pool. Dressel got out of the blocks a little quicker but could not hold the lead.

Andrew’s big finish compensated for a slight loss of star power in another event Sunday, when world record-holder Katie Ledecky decided to withdraw from the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle. Ashley Twichell ended up winning.

In other races, Olympic champion Simone Manuel had a solid performance in the women’s 50-meter freestyle, breaking a U.S. record that had stood for a decade.

Chase Kalisz, another Olympian, won the men’s 200-meter individual medley and Kathleen Baker, who set a world record in the 100-meter backstroke Saturday, followed up with a victory in the women’s version of the event.

The men’s 800-meter freestyle was won by Zane Grothe.

Top finishers at the national championships now take their place on the U.S. team that travels to the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo next month. Andrew’s performances also qualified him for his first world championship squad.

david.wharton@latimes.com

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