Phelps wins first race in comeback

Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:13pm EDT
 
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By Julian Linden

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps made an ominous start in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, setting the fastest time in the 100 meters butterfly heats at a USA Swimming Grand Prix meet in suburban Phoenix.

Racing for the first time since he retired in a blaze of glory after the 2012 London Olympics with a staggering career total of 18 gold medals, a relaxed Phelps cruised to victory in 52.84 seconds.

"I actually felt pretty controlled," Phelps said. "I literally was just so excited to get in and race.

"It was fun to get the first race out of the way."

His time was well outside the world record of 49.82 seconds he set at the 2009 world championships but still safely under the qualifying standard for the U.S. national championships in August, which double as the selection event for next year's world titles in Russia.

Although the 28-year-old still holds the world record in three individual events, none of his past times count for future competitions because they were recorded before the qualifying period began in June 2013. The last time Phelps needed to post a time to qualify for the national was when he was 13.

Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman were both reluctant to talk about their long-term goals when they appeared at a packed news conference on the eve of his comeback but neither has ruled out the possibility of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I could tell when he came in and I first saw him warm up that it was going to be good, that he was feeling good and he was into it," Bowman said.   Continued...

 
Apr 24, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Michael Phelps addresses the media after the men's 100m butterfly race at the 2014 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series at Skyline Aquatic Center. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports