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Olympic great Michael Phelps ending retirement

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United States' Michael Phelps swims in the men's 4 X 100-meter medley relay at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. Phelps retires with twice as many golds as any other Olympian, and his total of 22 medals is easily the best mark.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By beth harris

The Associated Press

First published Apr 14 2014 10:33AM
Updated Apr 14, 2014 11:46PM

Michael Phelps is coming out of retirement, the first step toward possibly swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 22-time Olympic medalist will compete for the first time since the 2012 London Games at a meet in Mesa, Ariz., on April 24-26.

Bob Bowman, the swimmer’s longtime coach, told The Associated Press on Monday that Phelps is entered in three events — the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and the 100 butterfly.

"I think he’s just going to test the waters a little bit and see how it goes," Bowman said by phone from Baltimore. "I wouldn’t say it’s a full-fledged comeback."

Phelps returned to training last fall and re-entered the U.S. drug-testing program. He has completed his six-month waiting period by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to be eligible for competition.

Bowman said Phelps is "pretty far" from being back in top form. He’s been training Monday through Friday with Bowman’s team at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

"He’s gotten back into good shape since September," the coach said. "He can give a good effort and certainly not be embarrassed. He’s in enough shape to swim competitively."

Besides Phelps, USA Swimming said Olympians Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky are among those expected to swim in the Arena Grand Prix at Skyline Aquatic Center.

Phelps turns 29 in June and is the winningest and most decorated athlete in Olympic history. He captured 18 gold medals and 22 medals overall at the last three Summer Games. He broke Mark Spitz’s record for a single Olympics by winning eight gold medals at Beijing in 2008.

Phelps had vowed that he wouldn’t swim into his 30s. His camp is being low key about the comeback.

"I think he’s just really enjoying it," Bowman said.

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