MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Michael Phelps has qualified fastest for the 100-meter butterfly final in his first competition since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics.
He was second at the turn and came on down the stretch to win his heat in 52.84 seconds at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday. That was the quickest time of any swimmer in the morning preliminaries and advances Phelps to the evening final in Mesa, Ariz.
Phelps' rival and friend Ryan Lochte was second-quickest, winning his heat in 52.94.
Phelps is the world and American record holder in the 100 fly. He became the first man to win the same event at three consecutive Olympics when he captured gold in London with a time of 51.21, his last competitive time in the event before Thursday.
He was the star attraction during prelims, with the stands packed for his comeback.