CHARLOTTE: Michael Phelps made a less than impressive return to the 200m butterfly on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), finishing seventh at the Charlotte Pro Swim more than three seconds behind winner Chase Kalisz.
Phelps, whose 18 Olympic gold medals include two in the 200m butterfly, hadn’t swum a final in what was once his signature event since the 2012 Games — where Chad Le Clos ended his Olympic reign in the event.
In the midst of a comeback aimed at the 2016 Rio Games, Phelps clocked 2min 00.77sec to finish next to last in the race won by Kalisz in 1:57.58.
Phelps had acknowledged on Friday that he wasn’t yet ready to compete at the top level in the demanding 200m fly, and he’s not sure it will be part of his Rio programme.
“I know what I have to do to be able to get there,” said Phelps, whose world record in the event of 1:51.51 was set in 2009. “I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.”
The fly was Phelps’s only event of the day, after he opted out of the 100m backstroke heats.
The 29-year-old American — who launched his competitive comeback last year but saw it interrupted by a six-month ban over a drunk-driving arrest in September — is entered in two events on the final day of the meeting, the 100m free and the 200m individual medley — in which he’s expected take on old rival Ryan Lochte.
Among other winners on Saturday, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu rallied to beat American Kathleen Baker in the 100m backstroke with a time of 59.47, fifth-fastest in the world this year.
Hosszu also won the women’s 200m fly to take her tally of titles for the week to four.
In the men’s 50m free, 27-year-old American Josh Schneider clocked 21.96sec to beat world record-holder Cesar Cielo of Brazil (22.05) with Olympic 100m free gold medallist Nathan Adrian third in 22.19.