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Saturday, August 23, 2014, 6:42 a.m.
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Olympic great Michael Phelps to swim again

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 15, 2014 at 7:21 a.m.

file-in-this-aug-4-2012-file-photo-united-states-michael-phelps-swims-in-the-mens-4-x-100-meter-medley-relay-at-the-aquatics-centre-in-the-olympic-park-during-the-2012-summer-olympics-in-london-phelps-is-coming-out-of-retirement-the-first-step-toward-possibly-swimming-at-the-2016-rio-olympics-bob-bowman-the-swimmers-longtime-coach-told-the-associated-press-on-monday-april-14-2014-that-phelps-is-entered-in-three-events-the-50-and-100-meter-freestyles-and-the-100-butterfly-at-his-first-meet-since-the-2012-london-games-at-a-meet-in-mesa-ariz-on-april-24-26-ap-photojulio-cortez-file

FILE - In this Aug. 4, 2012, file photo, 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. Phelps is coming out of retirement, the first step toward possibly swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Bob Bowman, the swimmer's longtime coach, told The Associated Press on Monday, April 14, 2014, that Phelps is entered in three events — the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and the 100 butterfly at his first meet since the 2012 London Games at a meet in Mesa, Ariz., on April 24-26. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Don't expect the same Michael Phelps in his return to swimming after a nearly two-year retirement.

Even if Phelps' comeback is a success, it will be different this time around.

No more swimming seven or eight events at the Olympics or world championships. No more grueling individual medleys.

This time, it's about taking on fewer and shorter races than the 22-time Olympic medalist did in his prime.

At 28, Phelps is far from being too old to dive into the pool. In recent years, swimmers have successfully competed into their 30s and in the case of Dara Torres, who was 41 at her last Olympics in 2008, won medals.

Phelps 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. "I wouldn't say it's a full-fledged comeback."

Phelps' camp is downplaying his return, which had been rumored ever since the most decorated Olympian in history returned to training last fall and re-entered the U.S. drug-testing program. His six-month waiting period to be eligible for competition ended in March.

"Since 2004, there's been an extraordinary amount of pressure for him to perform a certain way," Torres told the AP. "That's a great move that they're downplaying it a little bit. For him, it's probably just a training meet. He's probably just trying to get his feel back for races."

In Mesa, Phelps will swim 100 free and 100 fly preliminaries on the first day. Then, if he qualifies, he'll decide which race to swim for the evening finals, Bowman said. He'll swim the 50 free on the second day and might swim the 50 fly "just for fun," the coach added.

"I bet you're going to see a little spark in him that you didn't see in 2012," Torres said. "He's going to have a lot of fun with it."

No one is confirming Phelps has his eye on a fifth Olympics in 2016. But to resume the grind of training and drug testing, surely the Rio Games are on his radar.

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 in his hometown.

"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."

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