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Michael Phelps To Swim 50, 100 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly at the Mesa Grand Prix

According to Michael Phelps communications representative, Octagon’s Drew Johnson, Phelps plans to swim the 50 and 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly at the 2014 Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Arizona, reports Mike Klingaman of the Baltimore Sun.

NBAC Head Coach, Bob Bowman

NBAC Head Coach Bob Bowman

USA Swimming officially confirmed Phelps was coming out of retirement and returning to competition in Mesa, April 24-26th, yesterday in a press release.

On Monday, during the media horde’s rush to learn more, NBAC Head Coach Bob Bowman was low-key about his star swimmer’s return to the pool, managing expectations considering Phelps’ 18-month absence from competition. When asked how he felt Phelps would perform, Bowman told the Klingaman:

“I think he certainly won’t be embarrassed swimming in the meet,” Bowman said, “and I think he will be competitive. The difference is, he is doing half the training he used to.”

Bowman further cautioned that long-term plans — the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio — had been discussed in general terms, but that they were merely taking Phelps’ competitions one meet at a time.

As predicted by SwimSwam, Phelps’ schedule will skew to the shorter events, sprint races, as he eases back into competition.  Interestingly, Phelps showed a lot of promise back in 2010, the same Pan Pacific Championship season he’s working through now, in the 100 meter freestyle.  Coming off of a spectacular 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 World Championships, Phelps was off in most of his events. He clearly wasn’t engaged. His 200m butterfly was painfully slow and his 400m IM looked like molasses in the water. Rumors swirled that Phelps wasn’t motivated to race, that he had been missing workout sessions that season, and no one could blame the Olympic icon after all of the success he had achieved. Then Phelps leadoff the 4x100m freestyle relay in a 48.1. The crowd collectively gasped. Phelps could obviously switch it on when he needed.

Expect Phelps to experience many ups and downs as he works through his meet schedule over the next 90 days, with glimmers of greatness and signs that he could actually achieve personal best times in his sprint events.

Returning to the sport of swimming, the Greatest Olympian of All-Time will certainly impact coverage and continue to attract more children to the sport, increasing the base, but how will it impact his wallet? According to Bloomberg, Phelps should see a net gain.

Rick Burton, who served as chief marketing officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 2008 Games in Beijing, told Bloomberg:

Peter Carlisle, Octagon Managing Director

Peter Carlisle, Octagon Olympic & Action Sports Managing Director, Michael Phelps’ longtime manager

While yesterday’s announcement was best for brands such as Subway Restaurants that are already associated with Phelps, new endorsers will likely want to know his plans for the 2016 Games.

Octagon has been Phelps’ sports management representative since he turned pro at the tender age of 16. Peter Carlisle, Phelps’ longtime manager, could not be reached for comment, but he has been consistent about his approach to building the Phelps brand. Carlisle likes companies with global marketing and advertising campaigns. While Phelps is a Team USA athlete, he’s an international icon. Phelps’ inspiration transcends borders and nationalities. He is everyone’s hero and belongs to world.

Eidtor Note: According to Forbes Magazine, prior to 2012, Phelps was earning roughly $7 million per year from corporate partners Subway, VISA, Speedo, Procter & Gamble and Under Armour.

Comments

  1. Pvdh says:
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    22.4, 49.0, 52.8

  2. Pvk says:
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    22.5 48.9 52.5. He should’ve just swam for fun, now the pressure is on as well as the criticism. I think he should’ve stopped after 2008, when his stardom & performace was unmatchable!

  3. jd14 says:
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    Mel, I’d like your input on this, do you believe if Michael swims and makes the Pan Pacs team at Nationals would he still be considered to swim on all three relays? Or would be have to swim the individual 100 fly 100/200 frees to make the relays?

    • Gold Medal Mel Stewart says:
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      I don’t see him in the 4×200 unless he puts up a 1:45-46 in at least a prelim swim at Nationals. If he gets a fast 2-free on the books, the coaches can put him on the relay….

      I don’t know if Phelps wants to do the 2-free. The 2-free in 2008 was a perfect race, that 1:42. Phelps said it was one of his favorites of his entire career, said it in the video below. I think Phelps is returning to do a few things he hasn’t done before…. For me, for 2014, I think it’s a success if Phelps merely makes the Pan Pac team in relays. That’s it, and it’s really enough. 2015-16 are more important. Right now, he just needs to get his race-legs back. Anything else is a bonus in my opinion. HOWEVER, I do think Phelps could surprise us in “one” race, even if it’s just a “glimmer” of hope for the future.

      INTERVIEW WHERE HE SAYS 200 FREE IN ’08 WAS ONE OF HIS FAVORITES:

  4. DanDanThePartyMan says:
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    Whoop! So excited to see what Phelps does in Mesa! I just really hope the meet doesn’t get cancelled due to inclement weather. I heard that its supposed to snow the entire weekend there, swimming in the snow is no fun. The meet is in New York though so it probably will snow :( Thats the only reason why he won’t break :50 in the 100 fly in my opinion.

  5. WHOKNOWS says:
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    Phelps loves to race. He is good at evaluating his performances. It will be interesting to see what times he will be entered at. Two days of racing! Lots of interview requests!

  6. SwimmerTX says:
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    Hopefully this will put an end to Chad Le clos crazy toying around with the competetion antics.

  7. jiggs says:
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    “The difference is, he is doing half the training he is used to.” Maybe that means he’s doing USRPT – then his sprint times are finally going to start dropping like insane.

  8. Steve Nolan says:
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    As predicted by SwimSwam, Phelps’ schedule will skew to…”

    Who do you guys think you are, ASwimfan?

  9. swimcat says:
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    Very excited…but realistically, at a meet in April, I think we should expect more around 22.9, 50.1, and 52.9. In 2011 he was 49.4 in the 100 around this time.

  10. bobo gigi says:
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    Mel, you’re right to talk about his summer 2010. MP struggled a little bit in the longest races (at his level of course, 1.54 in the 200 fly, 1.45 in the 200 free and 1.55 in the 200 IM) but had great speed. He swam, as you said, 48.13 in the lead-off of the relay. And he also swam a great 50.65 in the 100 fly.

    • Gold Medal Mel Stewart says:
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      ….he had 100 speed. That 50.6 was a great swim.

      • ERVINFORTHEWIN says:
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        His butterfly leg in the 400 medley to come back on the Japanese team was pretty incredible too ! It was great to follow the races with your voice Mel ; I really enjoyed the whole meet .

  11. bobo gigi says:
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    For the MP fans, an interesting TV report made a few years ago.
    And at the same time you will work your French. :)

  12. Josh says:
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    Yahoo Sports stated yesterday that Phelps may/would swim Fly for the 50. Any truth to that? Seemed odd to me.

  13. BillBillBillBilll says:
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    I’m super pumped to see the third greatest swimmer in history come back to the sport. Hopefully Michael Andrews, the greatest in the sport, and/or Dylan Bosch, the second greatest in the history of swimming, fly to Mesa and compete against phelps. Should be great to see Andrews and clary(top two in history) compete against the third best!

  14. NickH says:
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    23.0,49.7,53.2

  15. completelyconquered says:
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    Last time I remember Phelps swimming the 50 free was at the Charlotte Ultraswim in 2009, when the straight-arm freestyle was all the rage. He only went a 23.2 there. I’m pretty sure we’ll see something similar to that time at Mesa.

    • Steve Nolan says:
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      I remember all the hype about him “changing his stroke” to focus on his freestyle sprinting. Oh, did I ever buy into it. “HE’S GONNA GO LIKE, A 45 YOU GUYS, JUST WAIT.”

    • Billy says:
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      My post about Herman was removed. I love dogs, not fair!

      I did not think MP would come back, but I’m usually wrong so whaddya gonna do?

      I’m very curious to see how MP will do but with all that ability, he’ll probably represent just fine.

      Swimming is back on the front page of the news. That’s a good thing!

  16. David says:
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    Phelps has most probably come back for the reIays.
    Even so, he needs to target the 200im
    I’m still cheesed off that his 200 free and im records were broken.
    That 200 free record is just too ridiculous to ever be broken so forget it.
    But the 200im record Phelps now must work towards and then he really can ride into that sunset forever.

  17. Atento says:
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    My friends, MP will go 50.27 100 free, 53.09 100 fly and He will swim fly in the 50 fr and go 24.03

  18. john26 says:
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    To be honest, I believe that Hagino will have a go at that 200IM WR at or before Rio. I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops a second in each of his 200m swims and he’s no doubt going to work on his breaststroke. I believe that he’s already ready to have a crack at that record if he brings his breastroke to the level of Phelps or Lochte, he could very well be deep under 1:54 by then.

    I don’t feel that its a good idea for Phelps to take a crack at the 200IM. His chance at the 4peat is much better in the 100fly, sure he’d only have 1 shot at the 4peat, but the 200IM willhurt his chances at that.

    • Rafael says:
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      Well.. Le Clos went 51 low going quite easy at first and came back looking everywhere around.. if he goes serious he may have a better shot at Crocker Textile than Phelps..

      • sven says:
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        What constitutes “textile”? I’m not just asking Raf, but the community at large, since I’ve seen Crocker’s 50.40 referred to multiple times as a textile record. He was wearing FS2 legs, which are textile but they extend past the knee. So does “textile” only refer to the material composing the suit, does it just mean “pre-2008 and post-2009,” or is it a term we’re using to mean “legal suit?” I’m fine with it, if that’s the standard we all agree on, I’m just a bit confused.

        I can’t find video for Crocker’s 50.76, but he was wearing legs when he went 50.98. Fastest time from London 2012 was Phelps 50.86. Anyone know of a faster jammer times off the top of their head?

        • Rafael says:
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          Textile includes the FS2 legs, even included Thorpe bodysuit (But If I am correct his 3:40:70 (around it) was even on Briefs.. only his 3:40:08 was on bodysuit)

          But for that.. The last one full textile record (Briefs, not even jammers or legs) was Thorpe WR on 200 If I am not wrong

        • iLikePsych says:
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          Textile means no rubber, i.e. the LZR and all the even further ridiculousness that followed. The PRO, even if a full bodyskin, would still count. I’m pretty sure most textile records now were set in jammers/kneeskins i.e. the standard coverage now, rather than the extra coverage suits.

      • john26 says:
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        I honestly dont think this “looking around” would cost him tremendously if he’s just side breathing (which, lets be honest, could be what he’s doing). I acknowledge that he didn’t do that in London, but hey.

        My rationale for Phelps was his 50.65 in 2010. That was perhaps the swim I was least expecting that he’s ever done.

    • sven says:
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      If I remember right, Lochte was 32.8 on the breaststroke leg at Worlds last summer (and 33.0 when he set the WR). Hagino was 33.8 on his, so like you say, if he can get it down to Lochte’s level, he’s sitting at ~1:54.4. A second drop is a tall order, but that’s easily the area where he has the most room for improvement so it’s possible. So as his breaststroke improves and he continues to develop closing speed, I think he’ll be a solid contender for gold in Rio and he could possibly shoot for Lochte’s WR. Big things ahead! Send that kid to work with Kitajima’s coach!

      Sidenote: I think that no matter how much Hagino’s breaststroke improves on top of the water, Lochte’s push off and pullout will always give him the edge over Hagino. The power difference is palpable. He might have age on his side by Rio, though.

      Compared to Phelps and Lochte (using splits from 2011 Shanghai, where each of their best times are from), Hagino is .14-.2 slower in the fly, .1 faster than Phelps and .1 slower than lochte in the back, .7-.8 slower in the breast, and .4-.5 slower in the free. He would’ve been .05 and .24 behind Phelps and Lochte, respectively, at the 100. He gives up about 1.2 seconds on his back half, though. If and when he cleans up the second 100, he’s going to be absolutely terrifying.

  19. M Palota says:
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    I say he’ll be 22.8 for the 50, 49.2 – worst case – for the 100 and I have this weird feeling he’s got a ripper in the 100 ‘fly. Maybe 52-mid…

    My guess for his programme in Rio is 100 free and ‘fly and 200 IM.

  20. Lane 0 says:
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    I hope phelps takes back his 200 scy fly record and swims a 1:38low-1:37high

    I think Phelps Has almost no medal chance in the 100 free. not with Magnussen, McEvoy, Morozov, and even Adrian. It would be an accomplishment to even make the team individually
    Le Clos will be really tough in the 100 fly, It’ll probably take 50.5 to win
    There will be competition in the 200 IM from But phelps is phelps so there’s no telling what he can do

    • Sven says:
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      Agreed. I think he just needs to gun for that relay spot. I actually think the 100 fly will be a better shot at gold than the 200 IM. Lochte, Hagino, and possibly Calisz (or others) will likely make that a very scary event to enter by then. Old Man Phelps can crank out a 100 and still be the best. He’s still got a very legitimate chance of winning the 200 IM in Rio, though, don’t get me wrong (and I’d say a medal is very likely, just not gold). I just think that if Phelps trains for the 100 fly (especially if he can commit to it more since he isn’t swimming every event), he’ll win it, even against someone as great as Le Clos. Add to that the fact that he probably won’t have as exhausting a schedule as he’s had the past three Olympics, and I say it’s almost a lock (thinking of how worn down he is by the time the 100 fly rolls around). Like you say, though, it’s Phelps, so the potential to surprise is always there.

      It’s been said that Phelps has done everything there is to do in swimming, and that now he’s just doing it for fun, but you bring up some uncharted territory: Short course. Him and Bob just train exclusively for short course (yards and meters) and go on a record smashing rampage, instead of (mostly) training through short course season as they have in the past. That would be really cool to see, and I think it would keep things fresh for him in the winter.

      • Lennart van Haaften says:
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        I’d love to see him at SC worlds in Doha in December, but it’ll probably be smarter to fully focus on the LC meets, especially now he’s getting a bit older.

  21. dave says:
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    I think he will surprise a LOT of people with his 100 free. What many ppl forget is that he was pretty damn good in the relay even with his massive workload of other events like Lochte. But the relay suffered by putting Lochte in cos he was fatigued from his other events. Phelps doesn’t have greatest speed on the water but obviously makes up for it with his underwater and turn. We’ve seen how Stravius had the greatest ever turn last year to win it for France. His 2010 PanPac performance was all about the momentum he got off the turn. The 100 free final at the WC or Olympics can be a lottery and there are SO MANY guys who will be favourites (think Russia, France and Aussies) but he could be right up there in the mix even just to medal would be great. Beating Magnussen will be hard but did you see mcEvoy beat him in the recent Aussie champs? He’s like 19 and did a mid 47!

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    this will be interesting indeed

  23. ERVINFORTHEWIN says:
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    Phelps will show some speed on 100 free , i never doubted one second he would train for it specifically one day . He was in Barcelona last year and saw how stupidely the Usa lost that 400 free relay . He knew that if he had been on the team , it would have been a different race . So , i would stick with 100 free / 100 fly for him for the months to come ….

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

GOLD MEDAL MEL, medal shot copy

Mel Stewart, aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, and USA Swimming. Mel has also worked as an Olympic analyst for ABC, NBC, EPSN, FOX SPORTS and TBS. At SwimSwam.com, Mel hosts Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com, a weekly report featuring the world’s fastest swimmers and Olympic medalists. Read More »