Michael Phelps Confirms Return to Competitive Swimming at Arena Grand Prix

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2014

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Michael Phelps' retirement has lasted almost two years, but the world-famous Olympic swimmer is returning to the pool at the Arena Grand Prix event in Mesa, Ariz., at the end of April, according to Jeff Metcalfe of AZCentral.com.

It'll be the first time the 28-year-old has competed since 2012 London Games. He's expected to enter into three events—the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and 100 butterfly.    

The United States Swimming organization confirmed Phelps' participation in a press release on its official website:

Olympic gold medalists and world record holders Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.), Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) are expected to headline a star-studded field for next week’s Arena Grand Prix at Mesa, slated for April 24-26 at the Skyline Aquatic Center. 

Metcalfe's report states that Phelps' comeback in this event is part of a larger plan to take part in the 2016 Olympics. Paul Smith, CEO of the Mesa Aquatics Club, was obviously ecstatic, telling Metcalfe that this is a game-changing moment.

"It's historic, it's going to be a media spectacle," Smith said. "No other venue has the same feel and proximity to the action as ours. It's going to be thrilling regardless of what shape he (Phelps) is in. There's something about being at pool level that is energizing."

To say that Phelps' retirement was brief is an understatement. Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News compared it to another famous athlete who constantly flip-flopped about walking into the sunset:

There are obvious differences between Phelps and Brett Favre.

Phelps will turn 29 in June, still very much in the prime of his life, and it's hard to imagine him falling out of shape just 20 months after becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympics history. 

Phelps has teased a comeback in the past. The whispers grew louder last November when the 18-time gold medalist re-registered with the United States Anti-Doping Agency to be eligible for the World Championships in 2015, according to Liz Byrnes of the Press Association, via the Daily Mail

It appears that Phelps has no plan to sit on the sidelines as the country's best swimmers begin staking their claim for a spot on the United States Olympic squad for 2016. He has to shake off the rust to see if the top U.S. swimmers have caught up to him.  

Now fans everywhere can see just how effective Phelps is in the pool as he's moved closer to the age of 30. At the very least, this news gives us a lot to talk about over the next two weeks until we see how he fares at the event.   


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