If there was any indication that Michael Phelps is back and in top form, it was his performance tonight in the 100m fly at the 2014 Bulldog Grand Slam.
Phelps has been fairly static this year in the 100m fly posting times on three separate occasions which were almost identical. He swam a 52.13 at his first meet back in Mesa and swam the exact same time later on at the Charlotte Grand Prix. Fast forward a bit to Santa Clara and Phelps was a 52.11.
Finally Phelps has shown us a performance which can be looked at as a clear reminder that he’s the most decorated Olympian of all time; a 51.67 in the 100m fly against a top-notch field. Ryan Lochte was second behind him, and by behind him, that’s far behind him.
Lochte’s time of 53.08 was significantly slower than Phelps’ time despite being fairly close to him at the first wall.
The big sign that Phelps is back is how he managed his head-to-head swim with Lochte. In Mesa in his first 100m fly final since London, Phelps was behind Lochte at the wall and was able to keep even with him on that last 50. Now, Phelps was beating Lochte to the wall even though he’s demonstrated throughout his career that he likes to swim the first 50m with easy speed and finish up the race by catching the rest of the field.
At the 50m mark, Phelps was a 24.39 to Lochte’s 24.81. That first 50m split was faster by about three tenths than when he produced in either Mesa or Santa Clara giving even more evidence that Phelps’ speed might not just be coming back to pre-retirement levels, but might even be improving upon that.
Phelps might be trying something new in this race, trying a new style of swimming it, and it’s looking like whatever he’s doing is working.
Phelps is definitely not on full taper right now considering that Pan Pacs and Pan Pac Trials are just around the corner, so by that logic Phelps should be able to swim faster than that at nationals. Faster than that could almost guarantee a spot on the team. Last year it took a 51.71 to make the team and a 51.66 to get the national title. Phelps swim tonight was just 0.01 seconds off of Eugene Godsoe’s winning time.
Assume for a second that Phelps finished first or second at nationals and is through to Pan Pacs, what next? Phelps’ time already proves himself on the world stage ranking him second, not to mention first out of all American swimmers.
Let’s say that Phelps can shave off some time at trials and give us a 51-low or a 50-high. A swim like that could even put him as the favorite for a gold medal at Pan Pacs themselves.
With the way Phelps swam tonight it’s safe to say that he’s comeback in full swing and wants to show the world that he’s still got it.