MICHAEL Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, is coming out of retirement, USA Swimming confirmed last night.
The American, who has not competed since the 2012 London Games, will headline a 24-26 April meet in Arizona along with fellow Olympians Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky. Phelps, who turns 29 in June, rejoined the US Anti-Doping Agency’s drug testing programme last November, a clear signal that he could be considering a return to the swimming pool in time for the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
Phelps retired from competitive swimming after winning four gold and two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics to take his career tally to 22, 18 of which were gold. He had repeatedly said before the London Games he would not contemplate a comeback after he retired and his coach downplayed any suggestions Phelps was considering a return to compete at what would be his fifth Olympics in Rio.
The Next Arena Grand Prix at Mesa is the fourth stop of USA Swimming’s 2013-14 Arena Grand Prix Series, which provides the nation’s best swimmers six opportunities to face top-flight competition on US soil.
In Glasgow, meanwhile, Ross Murdoch had taken the honours in the 100m but it was role reversal as England’s Adam Peaty won the 50m breaststroke at last night’s British Gas Championships at the Tollcross International Centre.
The City of Derby 20-year-old touched in 27.43secs and Murdoch, who had set a British record of 27.28secs at last week’s Scottish Gas Championships, was just 0.02secs behind and desperately disappointed not to add British title. “There really is nothing to separate us,” said the University of Stirling 20-year-old. “I made a silly mistake at the start but that is something I can work on in training. Adam and I are both just at the start of our careers and there is going to be some real tussles between us.”
Peaty added: “That win meant a lot. I really had to fight for it. There is going to be some good English, Scottish rivalry over the next few years.”
City of Leeds’ Sophie Taylor set a British record of 1:07.08 and won her third breaststroke event of the Championships in the 100m and there was also a great silver medal swim from Scottish champion Corrie Scott in a personal best 1:08.77.
“Corrie had a great semi so I had my doubts going into final,” said Taylor. “But it’s great to win all three events.”
In the 800m freestyle, Jazz Carlin has already been pre-selected for the Commonwealth Games but she certainly didn’t hold back and won the final by about half a length in a Welsh record 8:18.36. Scotland’s two Glasgow 2014 qualifiers, Aisha Thornton (8:41.52) and Camilla Hattersley (8:44.52), finished a rather distant sixth and seventh respectively.
Carlin was devastated to miss the London 2012 Olympics due to illness but now she is the No 1 in the world in her event and she did win Commonwealth silver and bronze in shorter freestyle events in Delhi four years ago.
A notable absentee from the 200m backstroke final was Warrender’s Craig McNally. The Edinburgh swimmer qualified for Team Scotland in 1:58.87 at last week’s Scottish Gas Championships, but opted out this week. In his absence, the University of Stirling’s Charlie Boldison – an Englishman – stepped up to take the gold on the final touch in 1:59.40, just inching out Plymouth’s Joe Patching in 1:59.54.
“I have just moved to Stirling and it’s been an incredible year,” said the former Barnet 21-year-old. “I did a personal best to break two minutes for a first time in the heats and the final was all about trying to win gold.”
Rebecca Adlington, the now retired 2008 Olympic gold medallist, was at Tollcross yesterday and she was full of enthusiasm for the Commonwealth Games that are now just 99 days away. “I loved it,” said Adlington, who won gold in the 400m and 800m freestyle in Delhi. “Because England, Scotland and Wales are all separate, it gives a chance for more people to take part and you can see the younger swimmers coming through.
“I think of myself as British so I’m always cheering on all the teams and it is a good part of the build-up to Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games.”
Richard Schafers (Edinburgh University), the Scottish record and Games qualifier, made it into the 50m freestyle final with a 22.94 secs semi-final time.