Swimming (Olympic)

Michael Phelps Wins 1st Gold in Return to International Competition

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: Michael Phelps of the United States dives at the start of the the Men's 100m Freestyle Final during day two of the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships at Gold Coast Aquatics on August 22, 2014 on the Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Matt Roberts/Getty Images
Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2014

Michael Phelps first re-entered the world of swimming as an active competitor four months ago, but Friday marked his return to golden form.

According to Reuters, the four-time Olympian won his first international gold medal since the commencement of his comeback as part of the United States' 4x200-meter relay team at the Pan Pacific championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: (L-R) Matt Mclean, Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and Coner Dwyer of the United States celebrate winning the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final during day two of the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships at Gold Coast Aquatics o
Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Phelps also finished fourth individually in the 100-meter freestyle event, but his main focus was celebrating his latest in a long line of triumphs.

"I think being able to hold that tradition for this long and being able to get back on the podium, it feels amazing," Phelps said. "We all know that by no means is this going to get any easier over the next two years, and I think having a close one like this should propel us into the Worlds next summer, and hopefully on to Rio from there."

Phelps swam the second leg of the relay and watched teammate Matt McLean take it home for the Americans just ahead of Japan.

Australia's Cameron McEvoy won the 100-meter free and expressed his delight competing against Phelps after picking up the victory:

Phelps is an 18-time Olympic gold medalist, which means he isn't particularly accustomed to standing anywhere other than atop the podium. From an individual standpoint, the 29-year-old obviously has a lot of work to do before getting in top form ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The fact that he is already in the thick of things against the world's best swimmers after taking time off suggests he is on the right track, however.

If nothing else, adding another gold medal to his trophy case should give him some confidence moving forward, which is a scary thought for every other swimmer worldwide.

Taking gold in the 4x200-meter relay at the Pan Pacific championships is nowhere near the greatest accomplishment of Phelps' storied career. Even so, it has to be a satisfying one considering how far he has come in such a short period of time.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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