MESA, Ariz. — It was only a preliminary heat, but Michael Phelps looked impressive in the first step of his much-anticipated comeback at a Grand Prix meet in Arizona on Thursday.
The 22-time Olympic medalist — who had not raced since the 2012 London Games — finished with the fastest qualifying time in the men's 100-meter butterfly.
There had been significant curiosity about Phelps' fitness after a layoff of 1½ years. The swimmer had talked about gaining more than 30 pounds and falling out of shape during his truncated retirement.
Phelps will race against a field that includes Ryan Lochte in Thursday night's final.
Earlier in the meet, Katie Ledecky qualified for the final in the women's 100-meter freestyle.