Michael Phelps wins 100 butterfly at 1st meet in 8 months


By Beth Harris ,AP

MESA, Arizona — Michael Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly at his first meet in eight months Thursday night, beginning his push to compete at a fifth Olympics next year.

The 18-time Olympic gold medalist led at the halfway mark and went on to touch first in 52.38 seconds in front of a big crowd at the outdoor Arena Pro Swim Series meet.

His time was slower than a year ago, when he finished second to longtime rival Ryan Lochte in 52.13 at the same meet after ending an abbreviated retirement. Lochte was second this time in 53.11.

Phelps is back competing after serving a six-month suspension handed down by USA Swimming after his second drunken driving arrest. He said Wednesday that he’s aiming for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

It’s his first meet since the Pan Pacific Championships in August. He was cheered on by mother Debbie and fiancee Nicole Johnson, who smiled while gazing at Phelps during his post-race interview.

��I’m always hard on myself,�� he said. ��It’s OK, probably some things to fix. It’s a good starting point.��

Phelps walked on deck in lime green sneakers and a gray-and-black jammer emblazoned with ��MP,�� his signature line of swimwear that debuted this week. Just like always, he climbed on the starting block, bent down and loosened up by swinging his arms so they slapped his back before taking his starting position.

��I’m focusing more on the small things,�� he said. ��Some of those things you tend to slack off on.��

In other events, 18-year-old Olympian Katie Ledecky won the 200 freestyle in 1:56.79, adding her second title of the meet. She won the 1,500 free Wednesday.

Ledecky returned later to finish fifth in the 400 individual medley, with three-time Hungarian Olympian Katinka Hosszu winning in 4:36.77.