USA Swimming Confirms Michael Phelps’ Comeback at Mesa Grand Prix

  109 Braden Keith | April 14th, 2014 | Arena Pro Swim Series, Featured, National, News

In a press release today announcing the headliners for the Mesa Grand Prix in Mesa, Arizona from April 24th-26th, USA Swimming has confirmed the intent of Michael Phelps return to competition, to swim his first meet since the 2012 Olympics.

This had been the rumored comeback meet for the last couple of months (after another opportunity to race sooner fell through), as Mel Stewart has hinted at several times here on SwimSwam, but this release is the first confirmation by USA Swimming or anybody on-the-record that the comeback is happening.

There are no psych sheets yet to know exactly what Phelps is swimming, but his coach Bob Bowman implied recently in a USA Today article that it will be a light schedule, and will test his speed more than his endurance. A good guess would be something like a 50 free/100 free/100 fly schedule.

Among others expected at the meet include Ryan LochteKatie LedeckyMatt GreversCaitlin LeverenzKevin CordesMargo GeerNathan AdrianElizabeth BeiselTyler ClaryNatalie CoughlinConor DwyerAnthony Ervin, Jimmy Feigen, and Allison Schmitt.

That will make this the deepest Grand Prix field that we’ve seen so far this season. All of the biggest names are in attendance, as are some local stars like defending CSCAA NCAA Swimmer of the Year Kevin Cordes, and Arizona native Caitlin Leverenz.

Phelps will grab almost all of the attention at this meet, but there will be some other good stories here. For Coughlin, it will be her first meet since the Austin Grand Prix in January.

This meet will also be a better test for Ryan Lochte’s comeback from a knee injury. Bad weather cost him all but the final day of the Orlando Grand Prix, and even that, he admitted, might have been too soon.

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109 Comments on "USA Swimming Confirms Michael Phelps’ Comeback at Mesa Grand Prix"


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Greg T
2 years 4 months ago

If this doesn’t get you excited, nothing will!!!!!

j
2 years 4 months ago

I know that I can’t wait! I hope he pulls off a successful comeback!

atarijpb
2 years 4 months ago

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

Steve Nolan
2 years 4 months ago
jd14
2 years 4 months ago

How packed do you suppose Mesa will be in two weeks? lol

2 years 4 months ago

Michael Phelps… SMASH!!!

2 years 4 months ago

Since everyone seems to be chiming in, I suppose I’ll put on my Carnal the Magnificent hat on and give it a whirl.

I think he’ll swim the 100 Fly and 200 IM individually, and all 3 relays… adding 4 more golds to his collection.

Rafael
2 years 4 months ago

50 free?

Would be surprised if Phelps had the front speed for a sub-22..

100 fly/100 free/200IM would be more suitable..

jman
2 years 4 months ago

50 free is probably part of his plan to focus on the shorter events. Its too bad he doesn’t want to put the time in to train the longer events because physiologically you lose speed before endurance with aging. But it comes down to how much time he is going to put in the pool

fatsmcgee
2 years 4 months ago

“physiologically you lose speed before endurance with aging”

Is this true with swimming? Seems to me that the most successful swimmers over 30 have been sprinters (Gary Hall Jr gold at 31, Dara Torres medal at 40, Anthony Ervin lifetime bests in mid 30s etc).

jman
2 years 4 months ago

Those are outliers who were never more than 50 to 100 specialists anyways. Fast twitch fiber losses occur at a much faster rate with aging than slow twitch. In someone with a great endurance background like Phelps, IF he could put in the work, would likely continue to get faster in his 200 and 400 events through his mid-30’s.

Steve Nolan
2 years 4 months ago

But recovery time gets longer with aging too, no? Anecdotally, guys always say they just can’t keep doing as much yardage or w/e as they get older. (Like, Lochte moving to SwimMAC.)

Obviously this would be one hell of an in-depth study, but my knee-jerk reaction is that the loss of certain muscle fibers is outweighed by other changes that makes it harder to keep training for slightly longer events.

KeithM
2 years 4 months ago

Really? I’ve always believed it was diametrically the opposite of this. Therese Alshammar, Alison Sheppard, Mark Foster, Lars Frolander, etc are more examples. Distance swimmers seem to lose their form earlier and tend to retire earlier. That’s why the Natalie Coughlin’s can go much farther in terms of Olympic cycles over their career than can the Janet Evans’s of the swimming world.

Khaled
2 years 4 months ago

Oh it’s on!

jarrettbrown
2 years 4 months ago

Well… I can’t say that I didn’t see that one coming.

swimzlazy
2 years 4 months ago

This is another “I told you so” moment. A countless number of people said Phelps would do the 200 events at this meet including the 200 IM. And just as I predicted, he is only swimming up to 100 events. Bowman always plays it safe and is overly cautious to protect Phelps and his legacy.

coacherik
2 years 4 months ago

Leave the “told you so” moments to Bobo.. The site doesn’t have enough room for two of you…

aswimfan
2 years 4 months ago

immmm… in this particular case, Bobo actually never predicted that Phelps will come back, and in fact he has stated many times he did not want Phelps to unretire.

I, on the other hand, will say this:

I told you so!

🙂

You can check out my very straightforward prediction about Phelps unretire during US trials:

http://swimswam.com/day-6-finals-michael-vs-ryan-in-200-im-recap-live/
ASWIMFAN
July 1, 2012 at 2:34 am
Phelps will unretire in 2014 and swim 100s, at least 100 free/fly.
Mark my word.

Or during the Olympics:
http://swimswam.com/phelps-anchors-american-relay-for-first-gold-medal-of-olympics/

ASWIMFAN
July 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm
This result strengthen further my believe that Phelps will un-retire in 2014.
Mark my word.

And many were laughing at me.

Now: I told you so!
🙂

Adam
2 years 4 months ago

No one cares

aswimfan
2 years 4 months ago

And I didnt believe for a second that anyone would care about my comments, but apparently you did to a degree that it made you spent energy to respond 🙂

Steve Nolan
2 years 4 months ago

You didn’t think anyone would care, but you found links anyway?

coacherik
2 years 4 months ago

It had nothing to do with what Bobo actually predicts so much as it is the thousands of predictions he throws out there. Way to chime in and kinda ruin the joke. You’re a whole barrel fun, aren’t ya….

Caffiend
2 years 4 months ago

Yup I think we all got it Aswimfan considering you had felt compelled to post an “I told you so” twice here and also in that other MP article!

Now can we move on to discussing Michael’s comeback, with your permission?

JustAGuy
2 years 4 months ago

Well, statistically speaking, if you predict enough things over a long enough span of time, one or more of them is bound to come to fruition – eventually. Reminiscent of the infinite monkey theorem vis-a-vis Shakespeare’s collected works.

hush
2 years 4 months ago

“And just as I predicted, he is only swimming up to 100 events. ”

We don’t know that yet. He could easily be in the 200 free or 200 IM.

It may have seemed like public opinion was against you simply because people tend to be more vocal when they disagree, but I think the majority of people in the swim community figured Phelps would be back. Yes, this might be an “I told you so” moment, but you’re telling people who already knew. There might have been some who felt otherwise, but I think to most people, it was a given.

swimzlazy
2 years 4 months ago

Well you know HUSH: I wish I could start my comment with something along the lines of “Well Bob Bowman and I go way back and he has mentioned…”. However, the most I’ve ever talked to him was in 2009 at the Santa Clara Grand Prix. I suggested that he should really consider having Phelps train for the 400 free in Beijing rather than the 400 IM. Turns out, I may have been right considering his 400 IM performance. Bob could have cared less about my opinion.

Anyways, I understand he still may swim the 200 IM or 200 Free and my prediction is only speculation at this point. However, I do know that Bowman does play it very safe with Michael after following his career for years. Coming out of retirement is a huge story, and the public will pay attention to his performance at this meet and this is important for his marketability in the build up to Rio. In events like the 100s, the odds are he will not lose by noticeably as much if he were to swim an event like a 200.

Similar to the importance of this meet and his image, you can go back to 2008 when Phelps broke his wrist and had to be out of the pool for several weeks. When he returned from the injury and competed at the Minnesota Grand Prix, Bowman only entered him in 2 events I believe (100 free, 200 IM). Again, playing it safe here even though one could argue that it may have been more beneficial for Phelps to swim a heavy program to test his endurance in preparation for the heavy workload he would have in Beijing that summer.

I also think another big factor Bowman considers is the competition Phelps may compete against and how they are currently performing. For instance, Lochte is swimming extremely fast lately based on his most recent meet. If Phelps were to lose against Lochte in his initial comeback, this would take away publicity for Phelps and give more to Lochte. Since the rivalry between the two is such a big storyline, I’m assuming Bowman would only allow Phelps to swim against Lochte in at most one event, which would be no more than a 100 at this point.

My point here when predicting what Phelps swims in these meets is to FOLLOW THE MONEY and to consider what outcome will most likely provide a boost in his marketability.

2 years 4 months ago

I knew it!!! Well alot of us did and hats off to Mel Stewart who called this weeks or months ago.
Phelps in the 50 free??!! Oh boy!!

This meet will be one to watch

Lisa
2 years 4 months ago

So excited! Can’t wait to see MP back in action!

Philip Johnson
2 years 4 months ago

And the come back begins. Though I don’t he will be as dominate in the individual events, he will be valuable asset on the relays.

mcgillrocks
2 years 4 months ago

Amazing. I can’t say after the recent reports I didn’t see this coming, but the shockwaves this sends out all over swimming. Incredible.

2 years 4 months ago

Will we get to see a head-to-head Lochte vs Phelps in the 100 fly?

More exciting, though, would be repeat head-to-heads of Ledecky and Schmitt in the 200 and (I hope) 400 free.

No mention of Missy Franklin above, so I assume the Cal Women’s team will still be heads down in the books?

Any word if the newly selected Canadian summer teams (Commonwealth, etc.) will bring a contingent down? Would love to see some good distance swimming on the men’s side.

rjcid
2 years 4 months ago

Phelps v. Le Clos 100 fly final… = Epic Battle Royale.

aswimfan
2 years 4 months ago

I am probably the least surprised of all.

I made the prediction already in 2011 in other swimming sites.

And even in early 2012 I already made my prediction numerous times in this site, such as this one that I made during the US olympics trials:

http://swimswam.com/day-6-finals-michael-vs-ryan-in-200-im-recap-live/

go towards the end of the comments where I made my comment:

“Phelps will unretire in 2014 and swim 100s, at least 100 free/fly.
Mark my word.”

Did you all mark my word? 😀

Philip Johnson
2 years 4 months ago

Yup you did. But I noticed you also said regarding the American women’s 4×100 free team, “The times are not good though, to say the least … USA will not even win a medal in 4×100 free with these … For bronze, USA will have to fight it tooth and nail with Germany.”

Not only did USA win bronze, but Germany didn’t even final in the 4×100. So I’ll say, you’re 99% right. lol

aswimfan
2 years 4 months ago

Haha.. I think I got not so welcoming responses for predicting USA to fight for bronze.

Pvdh
2 years 4 months ago

4 peat in the 200im

Joel Lin
2 years 4 months ago

Phelps has never won an Olympic gold medal with a mustache. Spitz won seven.

Bulletin board it baby!

liquid4TheGOAT
2 years 4 months ago

Hahaha love this!! Also, he never won one in a Speedo brief. For the few naysayers who still think Spitz is the GOAT, I say Phelps should grow the stache and wear a speedo in Rio! 😉

James
2 years 4 months ago

If you think about it, we in the swimming community just are not used to the idea of older swimmers making up the bulk of the talent at the elite level. I am going to make a bold prediction…the majority of medalists on the men’s side in Rio will be over 25.

aswimfan
2 years 4 months ago

If what you mean by “majority” is over half (50%), then I’d agree.

I wonder what were the age distributions among medalist in the previous olympics. Is there any such data on the web?

Steve Nolan
2 years 4 months ago

Could piece it together via Wikipedia, I think. Wouldn’t be very fun, but could make for an interesting study.

bobo gigi
2 years 4 months ago

Nothing is impossible for Bobo Gigi! 😆

Last olympic games in 2012 for the men

21/28/25/23/21/28/20/22/20/28/23/28/27/26/22/23/27/24/26/30/23/23/23/27/20/29/28/26/26/17/32/22 in individual.
26/28/24/28/24/23/24/36/24/23/20/20/26/23/23/24/24/28/28/17/18/20/23/20/24/28/29/27/27/26/28/21 for other medalists only in relay.

The average age of the medalists on the men’s side in London in individual was 24.6.
If we add the other medalists in relay, the average age was also 24.6.

aswimfan
2 years 4 months ago

Great work!

Thanks Bobo!

liquid4TheGOAT
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks, Bobo. If you have a few more hours of spare time, could you do the women’s side too? 😉

bobo gigi
2 years 4 months ago

I’m sure it will be much younger for the women.
Let’s see.

21/26/33/19/22/22/23/23/15/21/17/20/27/22/19/15/25/21/20/24/23/24/20/21/16/21/18/26/20/23 in individual.
20/18/25/16/27/26/24/28/25/17/26/29/20/21/21/22/22/21/21/17/21/25/21/24/20/18/23/26/25/24 for other medalists only in relay.

The average age of the medalists on the women’s side in London in individual was 21.6.
If we add the other medalists in relay, the average age was 22.

It has taken me 30 minutes.
I forgot to say I also put the open water in individual.

liquidThanksBobo
2 years 4 months ago

Bobo, thanks for the stats. 3 yrs difference sounds about right. I remember when the men’s/women’s averages were more like 21/18

Boknows34
2 years 4 months ago

If you have even more time Bobo, you could add the month to their yearly age. That would most likely push the average age over 25. 😉

Zanna
2 years 4 months ago

Who was 17 in then mens individual?

bobo gigi
2 years 4 months ago

Kosuke Hagino in the 400 IM.

woods
2 years 4 months ago

Time predictions anyone?

Im going to say 22.9, 50.1, and 53.8

liquid4TheGOAT
2 years 4 months ago

I’m thinking slightly faster than those, but not by much. Really hard to know where he’s at–that’s part of the excitement!

Swimmer Kid
2 years 4 months ago

im going to guess 22.7, 49.6, 52.8

Sven
2 years 4 months ago

22.4, 49.3, 52.8

bobo gigi
2 years 4 months ago

Congrats to Mel Stewart for giving us the news of the comeback in Mesa already a few weeks ago.

Then, while I didn’t want to see MP return from retirement, I will be his first supporter if he comes back seriously to prepare Rio.
I started to be a swimming fan in the early 2000s thanks to Michael Phelps and he will be forever my swimming idol.
I wish him the best for his comeback.

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The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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