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Michael Phelps splashes back into the pool at Arena Grand Prix meet

Michael Phelps off to the races once again.
Michael Phelps off to the races once again.
Photo by Christian Petersen

Michael Phelps, an eighteen-time gold medal winner at the Summer Olympics, competed at his first event since the 2012 London Summer Games.

The 28-year-old Phelps, who swore that he would never compete in the Olympics again, dove back into action at the Arena Grand Prix event in Mesa, AZ late last week.

The four-time Olympian was welcomed by the packed house of 1200 spectators when he mounted the starting block in the 100 meter butterfly event on Thursday.

In the finals that night, the first of his two events, he raced to the runner-up spot, just behind arch rival Ryan Lochte who bested the field with a 51.93 clocking.

Despite a slow start and an abysmal turn, Phelps kept pace touching in at 52.13 seconds, the fifth fastest time of the year.

On Friday, Phelps dabbled in the 50-meter freestyle, a distance far shorter than his typical races. Instead of resting on his powerful free stroke, he opted to practice his butterfly in this contest instead.

This experimentation resulted in a lowly seventh place during a preliminary heat. As a result, he failed to advance to the finals, let alone the consolation rounds.

Still, Phelps was content with his first foray into the limelight.

"I'm doing this for me," he said. "If I don't become as successful as you all think I should be and you think it tarnished my career, then that's your opinion."