Los Angeles - Michael Phelps capped his Santa Clara Grand Prix campaign on Sunday with a third-place finish in the 200m individual medley - his first final in the event since the 2012 Olympics.
Phelps, swimming in his third meet since ending a near two-year retirement in April, couldn't hold off North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates Conor Dwyer and Chase Kalisz on the final freestyle lap.
Dwyer won in 1min 59.49sec, with Kalisz second in 1:59.53 and Phelps third in 1:59.76.
Phelps once owned the 200m medley, and while US team-mate Ryan Lochte seized the world record at the World Championships in 2011, Phelps delivered a vintage performance in the final at the London Games the following year to become the first man to win the same individual race at three straight Olympics.
It was one of the remarkable 18 Olympic golds Phelps tallied before retiring after London, only to return this year in a comeback that could take him to the 2016 Rio Games.
While Phelps's comeback is in its early stages, Dwyer had his eye on his legendary clubmate, who had posted the fastest qualifying time on Sunday morning.
"I just knew I wanted to go out with Michael at the 100," Dwyer said. "I knew Chase always has a hell of a back half, so I just (wanted) to lay out four 50s as hard as I could."
The event was Phelps's fourth in three days - his busiest schedule in three meets since April.
On Saturday, he finished runner-up to another North Baltimore training partner, France's world and Olympic champion Yannick Agnel, in the 200m freestyle.
On Friday Phelps tied for first place with Tom Shields in the 100m butterfly and finished second to Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian in the 100m free.
Overall, Phelps contested eight races in three days, having just completed three weeks of altitude training in Colorado.
Although the 28-year-old Phelps has been coy about whether he has Rio - or next year's world championships in Russia - in his sights, he is now aiming at the biggest competition of his comeback, the US championships in Irvine, California, in August.