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Michael Phelps swims butterfly in freestyle event

Updated: Friday, April 25 2014, 09:49 PM EDT

MESA, Ariz. -- Michael Phelps stuck with his plan to swim the butterfly stroke in the 50-meter freestyle Friday at the Arena Grand Prix, wrapping up his return to competitive swimming this week with a time of 24.06 seconds during preliminaries at Skyline Aquatic Center.


The 22-time Olympic medalist was 42nd out of 89 finishers in qualifying. He chose to swim butterfly to work on that stroke in his first meet back since the 2012 London Olympics. South African Roland Schoeman of Phoenix Swim Club was the fastest in 50 free prelims at 22.43.


Phelps did not qualify for the evening final and is not swimming in the final day of the meet Saturday. He was second in the 100 butterfly behind Ryan Lochte on Thursday.


Phelps' time ties for 25th best in the world in the 50 butterfly this year.


"I think it's a good starting point," said Phelps, who next will swim in a few events at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte, May 15-18. "Just being able to get some races back under my belt. The schedule wasn't ideal for what I should swim at this very moment."


Other individual races Friday are the 400 individual medley, 200 free and 200 backstroke.


"I'm not ever going to do the 400 IM, that I will guarantee you," Phelps said.


"Is that kind of like, 'I will never, ever swim again?' " countered his coach Bob Bowman, which generated laughs at the news conference.


Phelps said he was not ready to swim two events Thursday – 100 freestyle in addition to the 100 butterfly, as he planned originally – and did not want to swim anything longer than 100 meters.


"As a whole I think I felt pretty good just being able to get back in the water and race again," Phelps said. "I was very excited. I felt like a kid and that was the coolest part about it."


If Phelps competes at the Phillips 66 National Championships Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif., he would have a chance to qualify for the 2014 Pan Pacific and 2015 World Championship teams.

Michael Phelps swims butterfly in freestyle event


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