Mesa, AZ, United States (4E Sports) – After retiring almost two years ago, 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps will return to competitive swimming.
Phelps’ participation at the Arena Grand Prix from April 24-26 at Skyline Aquatic Center was confirmed by his long-time coach Bob Bowman.
“We both have no expectations to be honest,” Bowman said. “We’ll just see what happens. We have no idea how it will go. It’ll probably go OK. It’ll be good just to be back in a competitive environment, test it out and have some fun racing.”
Bowman said Phelps plans to swim in the 100-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly April 24 preliminaries. If he advances, he will probably pick one to swim in the evening finals. He also plans to swim in either the 50 freestyle or 50 fly.
“Once he started getting fit, I’m not too surprised he would want to compete,” Bowman said. “He’s made like that.”
Phelps earned six medals at the 2012 London Olympics to become the winningest Olympic medalist in any sport. The 28-year-old is starting on a comeback path that he hopes will take him to a fifth Olympics in 2016.
Since retiring, Phelps worked on his golf game including an appearance at the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am.
He began training again in the fall and re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing program, which requires a six-month waiting period before being allowed to compete.
“It’s historic, it’s going to be a media spectacle,” Mesa Aquatics Club CEO Paul Smith said. “No other venue has the same feel and proximity to the action as ours. It’s going to be thrilling regardless of what shape he (Phelps) is in. There’s something about being at pool level that is energizing.”
Phelps first competed at the Olympics in 2000 at age 15. He won six gold medals (8 total) in 2004, a record eight golds in 2008 and four golds (6 total) in 2012.
Ryan Lochte also is returning to Mesa for a second year together with Olympians Katie Ledecky, Matt Grevers, Breeja Larson and Caitlin Leverenz.