Phelps set for second meet of his comeback

Thu May 15, 2014 4:01pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Michael Phelps will take another small step in his comeback to competitive swimming when he competes in two races on Friday but this time he will do it without the presence of his friend and greatest rival.

The 28-year-old Phelps competed for the first time since retiring after the London Olympics when he plunged back into the pool at a Grand Prix meet in suburban Phoenix last month.

He was narrowly beaten in the 100 meters butterfly by Ryan Lochte, his uber-competitive team mate who Phelps credits for driving him to greater heights.

That loss only helped the competitive juices to start flowing again in an ominous warning to his rivals that he has his heart set on greater goals.

On Friday, Phelps will again compete in the 100m fly at a Grand Prix meet in Charlotte, North Carolina, but without Lochte, who is taking a break to overcome a minor injury.

Phelps will also compete in 200m freestyle, an event he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he captured a mind-boggling eight gold medals, but dropped from his program for London.

Phelps has not said what his long-term plans are this time, insisting he is simply testing the waters to see if he still enjoys the grind of training, but he has not ruled out the possibility of competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

As the most decorated Olympian of all time with nothing to prove, Phelps is unlikely to take on another massive program but could still add to his golden stockpile with a reduced schedule.

Although he was beaten in the 100m butterfly in Phoenix, he did enough to qualify for a place at this year's U.S. National championships in California, which double as the selection event for next year's world titles in Russia.   Continued...

Apr 25, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Michael Phelps at a press conference after swimming the 50m freestyle prelims during the Arena Grand Prix at Skyline Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports