NEWCASTLE'S Thomas Fraser-Holmes will race against US superstars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the final of the 400 metre individual medley after finishing third in his qualifying heat at the London Olympics on Saturday morning.
The 20-year-old from Merewether recovered from a sluggish start to power home in the final freestyle leg.
His time of 4 min 12.66 seconds sealed his spot in the gold-medal race. The heat was won by South African Chad Le Clos (4.12.24) with Lochte (4.12.35) finishing second.
Phelps only snuck into the final with a surprisingly tardy 4.13.33 in the earlier heats.
Fraser-Holmes said afterwards he "couldn't get going" in the early stages of the race and needed to pull out all stops in the last leg.
He was confident he could improve on that time in the final, which will be held at about 4.40am Sunday morning Australian time.
"I wasn't pleased with that at all,'' Fraser-Holmes said.
"I stuffed up little things, which is pretty common for my first swim, but hopefully tonight I can be on my game a little more.''
Fraser-Holmes, who is appearing at his first Olympics, said he would be better for the experience.
"The sky's the limit,'' he said. "I want to do a PB [in the final].
"I want to get as close as I can to that 4.10.
"If I can't, I can't, but I'm in an Olympic final and that's great in itself.
"It's my first really, big, big international meeting, and I've made the final in my first swim.''
Fraser-Holmes will also swim in the 200m freestyle later in the meet, and Merewether's Angie Bainbridge, a gold medallist at Beijing four years ago, will contest the 4x200m relay.