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Michael Phelps wins 100 fly heat in comeback meet

Phelps Wins 100 Fly Heat In Return

By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- A giddy Michael Phelps qualified fastest for the 100-meter butterfly final Thursday in his first competition since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics.

The 28-year-old swimmer was second at the turn and came on down the stretch to win his heat in 52.84 seconds at the Arena Grand Prix, easily advancing to the evening final.

"I felt like a summer league swimmer today," Phelps said, smiling. "I felt like I should have my heat and lane written on my hand so I didn't forget it."

Friend and rival Ryan Lochte was second-quickest, winning his heat in 52.94. Joining them in the eight-man final will be Olympian Jason Dunford of Kenya and two-time Olympian Albert Subirats of Venezuela.

Phelps and Lochte joked with each other behind the starting blocks when Phelps came out early for his heat, which came after Lochte's.

"He said, `Maybe we should both just mess around and see if we can both get in the `C' final,'" Phelps said.

Phelps' longtime coach Bob Bowman liked what he saw.

"I could tell when he came in that it was going to be good, that he was into it," he said.

Phelps walked on deck wearing his usual ear buds, but his smile replaced the serious look he always wore during the height of his career.

"It was more like I was just so excited to swim," he said. "You're going to hear this word come out of my mouth a lot - it was fun."

The 22-time Olympic medalist was greeted with loud cheers from the packed stands.

"It really is wild. It's good for the sport," Phelps said about his reception. "This is the sport I've known my whole entire life and loved my whole life. When I heard the roar in the stands, it's amazing."

Retired speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian, tweeted good luck to Phelps, saying, "Excited to see you back brother."

The three-day meet sold out every session the day his comeback was announced last week, with a capacity of 1,200 at Skyline Aquatic Center. A pair of $40 all-session tickets was being advertised online for $250. USA Swimming issued 100 media credentials - five times more than usual.

The possible future of American swimming with the same first name as Phelps was in the 100 fly heats. Michael Andrew, a 15-year-old from Lawrence, Kan., qualified for the `C' final in 55.23. He has broken more than 30 national age-group records and last June became the youngest U.S. male swimmer to turn pro. He was excited to meet his idol Phelps on Wednesday.

"Swimming needs you!" he tweeted after they traded handshakes. "You rock!"

Phelps is the world and American record holder in the 100 fly, with a time of 49.82 set in 2009. He became the first man to win the same event at three consecutive Olympics when he won in London with a time of 51.21, his last competitive time in the event before Thursday.

Phelps' time was easily good enough to surpass the qualifying standard of 54.79 for the U.S. national championships in August. That meet will decide the team for next year's world championships.

"One step at a time," he said.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
big dog April 24 2014 at 9:42 PM

Tarzan movies next???
lol

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
hanlon1212 big dog April 25 2014 at 8:09 AM

No , Cheech & Chong.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
mickshute2261 April 24 2014 at 10:55 PM

good on ya, enjoy the ride this time, old age will always be there and the young guys will be nipping on your heels. Swim my friend we love watching you compete.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
hanlon1212 April 25 2014 at 8:07 AM

Marijuana doesn't see to have harmed Mr. Phelps .

Maybe we should call him " Mythbuster ? "

Flag Reply +1 rate up
JerryG April 25 2014 at 12:11 AM

Huge wings, trim bod. This guy is genetically engineered for swimming.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
jkthomas97 JerryG April 25 2014 at 7:34 AM

As was Mark Spitz in his day. Built like a dolphin, his competitors called him “the freak.”

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
fathchuck jkthomas97 April 25 2014 at 8:03 AM

Yeah, but I'dlike tosee MIchalke do it the way Mark did -- moustache and all -- and see if he fares as well.

Flag 0 rate up
sjoh178327 April 25 2014 at 8:03 AM

Very glad to see a successful comeback. We need some lighter news these days.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
millgreen April 24 2014 at 11:21 PM

Glad to have you back, Michael. You mean a lot to America and American Swimming.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Pat April 25 2014 at 10:29 AM

Glad to see him back. At 28, he should have a lot of competitive years left. Not exactly over the hill.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
adriankip April 25 2014 at 7:51 AM

Anyone remember why this idiot fell out of the limelite?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
hanlon1212 adriankip April 25 2014 at 8:08 AM

So you could bad - mouth him from your basement ?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
LewTag April 25 2014 at 12:01 AM

I hope that he saves his money...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
lawrencefishberg April 25 2014 at 5:13 AM

Two reasons they all try a comeback...the need for more money and more fame....the one reason they all fail....too old.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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