Phelps enters 2 events at North Carolina meet

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By Paul Newberry
May. 6, 2014 3:08 AM EDT


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Phelps enters 2 events at North Carolina meet
MESA, AZ - APRIL 16: Michael Phelps talks with a basket girl after winning the 100m Butterfly Final on day two of the Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Aquatic Center on April 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 15: Michael Phelps warms up before day one of the Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Aquatic Center on April 15, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 16: Michael Phelps (right) and Tim Phillips (left) get out of the pool after competing in the 100m Butterfly Prelim during day two of the Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Aquatic Center on April 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 24: Michael Phelps competes in the Men's 100m Butterfly final during day one of the Arena Grand Prix at the Skyline Aquatic Center on April 24, 2014 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 24: Michael Phelps competes in the Men's 100m Butterfly Prelim during day one of the Arena Grand Prix at the Skyline Aquatic Center on April 24, 2014 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 17: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps arrives at The 2013 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
US swimmer Michael Phelps (L) chats with children of the Rocinha shantytown by the pool of the favela's sport complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 11, 2013. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)
US swimmer Michael Phelps shares the morning with kids of the Alemao shantytown, at the sport complex of the favela in Rio de Janeiro, on October 30, 2012. Phelps arrived in Brazil to take part in a series of activities related to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. (ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Phelps, left, laughs with Ryan Lochte, right, before they compete against each other in the men's 100-meter backstroke at the Bulldog Grand Slam swim meet at the University of Georgia, Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Athens, Ga. Phelps won the event and Lochte took second place. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Michael Phelps speaks to the media after practice, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Mesa, Ariz. Phelps is competing in the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa on Thursday as he returns to competitive swimming after a nearly two-year retirement. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Michael Phelps prepares to practice, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Mesa, Ariz. Phelps is competing in the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa as he returns to competitive swimming after a nearly two-year retirement. (AP Photo/Matt York)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 04: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps attends a Subway press conference to promote healthy living and lifestyle among childrenon December 04, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Rafael Neddermeyer/Getty Images)
Olympic swimming superstar Michael Phelps arrives to appear in court December 19, 2014 in his home state of Maryland, for driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding at the John R. Hargrove, Sr. District Court Building in Baltimore, Maryland. The 18-time gold medalist swimmer was arrested on September 30,2014 and was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, excessive speed and crossing double lane lines. Lawyers specializing in DUI cases doubted Phelps would do jail time, given how no accident occurred and that a decade has elapsed since his last offence. 'He's probably looking at a suspended jail sentence,' Scott Richman, who has prosecuted hundreds of DUI cases, told the Baltimore Sun newspaper. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
US swimmer Matthews Grevers (L), Michael Phelps (C) and Brendan Hansen react after they won gold in the men's 4x100m medley relay final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 4, 2012 in London. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)
(L-R) US swimmers Matthews Grevers, Brendan Hansen, Michael Phelps and Adrian Nathan pose on the podium after winning gold in the men's 4x100 medley relay final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 4, 2012 in London. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)
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Next up for Michael Phelps' comeback: Two events that produced Olympic gold.

Phelps has entered the 100-meter butterfly and the 200 freestyle at the Charlotte Grand Prix meet in North Carolina next week, his coach, Bob Bowman, told The Associated Press on Monday night.

With both events on May 16, Bowman can stick to the plan of building up Phelps' endurance while staying away, at least for now, from the grueling, multi-day programs that were once the norm for Phelps. There will be morning preliminaries and evening finals, though the coach said he's not yet certain Phelps will actually compete in both races.

Phelps returned to competitive swimming at a meet in Arizona less than two weeks ago, his first since retiring after the 2012 London Games as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

He is the three-time defending Olympic champion in the 100 fly, so it's obvious that race would be part of any plans to compete at the Rio Games. He won the 200 free at the 2008 Beijing Games - during his record eight-gold performance - but dropped the event for London.

Phelps also competed in two events at the Mesa Grand Prix, finishing second to longtime rival Ryan Lochte in the 100 fly and matching the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. The other event, the 50 freestyle, wasn't nearly as serious. That race has never been part of Phelps' program at a major meet, and he even used his preliminary heat to work on his butterfly stroke. Not surprisingly, he finished 42nd overall against swimmers who were using the much faster freestyle.

Still, it was a good starting point for what the Phelps' camp is describing as a low-key comeback.

"We were encouraged by his performances in Mesa and look forward to trying a 200 in Charlotte," Bowman said in a text message.

Phelps has also put his name in for the final Grand Prix meet of the season in Santa Clara, California, next month, though he is taking the comeback one step at a time and not committing to any long-term goals.

Still, it's clear he wouldn't be putting in the work if the 2016 Olympics were not his primary focus. Phelps has already competed in four Summer Games, winning 18 golds and 22 medals overall.

The Grand Prix schedule provides tuneups for the U.S. national championships in August, where spots will be earned for the Pan Pacific Championships later that month and next year's world championships in Kazan, Russia - an important steppingstone for the Olympics.

After the Charlotte meet, Phelps will head to Colorado for high-altitude training beginning May 27.

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