Other Sport

Phelps fastest in return

2015-04-16 22:37
Michael Phelps (AFP)

Phoenix - Olympic swimming superstar Michael Phelps has led the way into the 100m butterfly final at the Mesa Pro Swim meeting on Thursday in his first race since August.

Phelps, back from a six-month suspension in the wake of his drunk-driving arrest last September, clocked 52.92sec to top the qualifying times in the 100m fly, an event in which he set the world record in 2009 and has won at three Olympics.

"It was just weird racing because it's been so long," said the 29-year-old, who said his plan with coach Bob Bowman for the heat was simple.

"Don't worry about stroke, don't worry about anything, just get in the water and race, and that's what I did," Phelps said.

The 18-time Olympic gold medallist said there were plenty of details to improve on -- perhaps in time for Thursday night's final.

Tom Phillips was second-fastest in the heats with a time of 53.02, and Phelps's longtime rival Ryan Lochte was third-quickest in 53.17.

"Afterwards I can say my stroke didn't feel good, probably needed one less stroke, needed to kick more, my breakout on my start was bad -- I can pick apart the race a hundred different ways," Phelps said. "Just getting in the water and racing is something I was looking forward to.

"I'll try to do something tonight."

The eight months since Phelps last competed, at the Pan Pacific Championships, have been challenging.

His drunk-driving arrest in Baltimore was followed by a stint in rehab, and he was axed from the US team for this year's World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

But Phelps, who confirmed on Wednesday he's committed to a 2016 Rio Olympic bid, says he has emerged with a better understanding of himself as a person and not just a swimmer.

That new perspective, however, has only renewed his passion for his sport.

"I can look in the mirror and be happy, and I think that's something that's challenging for a lot of people in the world," Phelps said.

This week isn't the first time Phelps has hit the comeback trail in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa

He ended a near two-year retirement at the same meeting last year, sparking speculation that he was considering an Olympic comeback in Rio.

Lochte, who has long said he never believed Phelps would stick to the retirement he announced after the 2012 London Olympics, said he was happy to see Phelps back on the blocks.

"My hat goes off to him and I'm just glad he's back," Lochte said. "I love racing him. he's the hardest racer in the world.

"He'll go toe-to-toe with you in any event, and I like that."

Read more on:    michael phelps  |  swimming

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Floyd 'Money' Mayweather v Conor 'The Notorious' McGregor ... who've you got in Saturday's mega fight?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.