MESA, Arizona, April 24. PRETTY much the entire world was anxious to see how Michael Phelps would do in his first race since coming out of retirement, and the Greatest Of All Time didn’t disappoint, posting a 52.84 to lead qualifying into tonight’s finals.
In case you missed it, here’s the video of the race, followed by an interview with Universal Sports commentator Rowdy Gaines:
Here is Swimming World’s recap of the event:
The Greatest of All Time Michael Phelps definitely made his return dramatic after scratching the 100 free. That left him in the final heat of the day, if you don’t count the 400 free B finals, and he kept the fans cheering.
After drawing a huge cheer from his signature arm slap, Phelps entered the water and left no doubt that while he’s having fun he is still serious about the sport. Phelps threw down a 52.84 in his return swim, leading all qualifiers. As a prelim swim, that’s only half-a-second off the top 20 in the world rankings. And, yes, that’s a U.S. Nationals cut putting him in place to compete for a spot on the Pan Pacific Championships squad.
His long-term foe Ryan Lochte of SwimMAC set up a head-to-head battle this evening with the second-seeded time of the morning as he clocked a 52.94. The question isn’t whether tonight will be fast, but whether the two can challenge Takuro Fujii’s world-leading 51.84 from the Japanese Nationals.
Palo Alto’s Jason Dunford finished third in 53.33 with Azura Florida’s Luis Martinez placing fourth in 53.56.
Palo Alto’s Eugene Godsoe (53.75), Auburn’s Albert Subirats (53.91), Queens’ Matt Josa (53.91) and Terrapins’ Justin Lynch (53.93) also grabbed spots in the championship heat.
Michael Andrew, the 13-14 NAG hunter, now swimming as a 15-year-old placed 17th in 55.23. He has some time to make up as Justin Lynch owns the 15-16 mark with a 52.75.