Michael Phelps continued his comeback tour with a win in the 100-meter butterfly at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte, N.C.
The 22-time Olympic medalist could not get a victory in the first event of his comeback in Mesa, losing to Ryan Lochte in the finals. However, he swam past the field this time around and came away with a first-place finish. Swimming World provides a look at his time:
Interestingly, this is the exact same time as his final run a few weeks ago, although this time he was the first to touch the wall. Always the perfectionist, Phelps discussed after the race the need to improve his turns, via SwimSwam:
Still, he should be happy that he was able to finish on top in a competitive environment for the first time in two years.
Phelps qualified for the final earlier in the day, finishing with the second-best time in the field:
Pavel Sankovich had a better showing in the morning heats, but he could only manage second place in the A final, 0.59 seconds off the lead. Joseph Schooling finished in third place.
Phelps started things off in Charlotte with a mediocre showing in the 200-meter freestyle, his first time competing in the discipline since the 2012 Summer Olympics (he swam butterfly in the freestyle competition in Mesa).
Phelps' time of 1:51.69 was the ninth-best time overall. Although only the top eight qualify for the final, he had the option to compete for the title, according to Bryan Flaherty of The Washington Post:
Braden Keith of SwimSwam reported that Yannick Agnel was disqualified post-facto for a false start.
However, his coach Bob Bowman explained that Phelps was going to scratch from the finals, via Keith:
I think it was a good first time out and now we have some real picture of where he is in it. I think he could definitely go better. He's not going to swim it tonight, he's just going to do the 100 fly because the double comes up so quick and his 100 fly was really good this morning. All in all, we're pleased.
This allowed him to get extra rest for the 100-meter butterfly, which turned out to be a smart move based on the results. While Phelps was a top performer in multiple events per session when he was at his peak, he is clearly not in the same shape yet.
Phelps has not explained his plans for the future, but did state exactly why he returned to the pool. According to Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer, the swimmer stated, "I’m doing it to have fun and because I love it. In Mesa (Arizona, where Phelps first un-retired in April), I felt like a kid down there swimming in a summer league meet. That’s something I haven’t had in awhile."
While he has not committed to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, his swim cap in training might have provided a hint, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC Olympic Talk:
Hopefully, he will continue to get back into shape to a point where he can again contend for Olympic medals. The sport is much more enjoyable with a star like him in it, and Americans will certainly be able to rally around him as they hope to watch him add to his impressive resume of career accomplishments.
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