Phelps chalks up first win in comeback

Fri May 16, 2014 9:38pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Michael Phelps was back in familiar waters and on top of the winner's podium in his comeback to competitive swimming at the U.S. Grand Prix in Charlotte on Friday.

Competing for just the second time since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps ticked off all the important boxes he needed to.

In the morning heats, he tested his stamina by entering two lung-sapping events - the 200 meters freestyle and 100m butterfly - then in the evening finals, he tested his speed by winning the 100m butterfly final.

He also qualified for the 200m freestyle final but scratched from the race after achieving his goal in the heats - qualifying for this year's U.S. national championships, which double as the selection event for next year's world titles in Russia.

His time in the 200m free was one minute 51.69 seconds, way below his best, but 0.2 seconds inside the U.S. qualifying time.

His best times from previous years don't count for future meetings because they happened outside the qualifying window but Phelps has now qualified for the nationals in the 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle.

Both Phelps and his long-time coach Bob Bowman have been coy about their future plans but Bowman was pleased by what he saw on Friday.

"I thought Michael's 200 free was actually pretty good for the first one in a couple of years," Bowman told reporters.

"Now we have a real picture of where he is at. I think he could definitely do better."   Continued...

May 16, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Michael Phelps swims in the 100 meter butterfly final at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports