As comebacks go, it really couldn’t have gone much better for Michael Phelps competing outdoors in the Mesa Grand Prix in Arizona. Looking relaxed at the press conference the day before racing, he went into the Prelims of the 100 Fly as the top seed and finished first with a very respectable time of 52.84
And while he couldn’t hold off friend and US rival Ryan Lochte in the final he managed to improve on his heats time, recording 52.13 (Lochte won in a time of 51.93).
Given that Phelps hasn’t swum competitively since London 2012 and has spent much of his time since playing golf and putting on weight (he gained about 30lbs, around 14Kgs), it was nevertheless an amazing achievement.
Not that the man himself was entirely happy with his performance in the finals. “My stroke was a little rushed tonight,” he said. “It was way more relaxed this morning.” He was also critical of his turn: “That may have been the worst turn that I have ever done in my entire life.”
Although it’s still early to say for sure, it looks extremely likely to me that Phelps will be booking his ticket to Rio 2016, not as a commentator but as a competitor once again. Time to put away those golf clubs for a couple more years!