Michael Phelps pipped by long-time rival Ryan Lochte in comeback race
Last Updated: 25/04/14 9:17am
Ryan Lochte (l) and Michael Phelps following Thursday's final in Arizona
Swimming great Michael Phelps finished an impressive second in his comeback event in Arizona on Thursday.
The six-foot, four-inch, 28-year-old was narrowly beaten by fellow American and close friend Ryan Lochte in the 100m butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix posting a respectable time of 52.13 seconds.
Lochte, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, clocked 51.93s to edge out Phelps who retired from competitive swimming following the 2012 London Olympics.
"I never like to lose but I did what I wanted to do, I wanted to be around 1:52. Apart from what was literally the worst turn of my career, I think I did pretty well. It was fun."
Phelps, the current world record holder in this event and a three-time Olympic champion over the distance, still managed to post the fourth-quickest time in the world this year despite being in retirement for 20 months.
Before a sell-out crowd, Lochte led at the turn with 18-time Olympic champion Phelps second.
Phelps was unable to close the gap but was not too upset by his performance: "I never like to lose but I did what I wanted to do, I wanted to be around 1:52.
"Apart from what was literally the worst turn of my career, I think I did pretty well. It was fun."
And winner Lochte added: "Down there at the turn I kind of peeked over and I saw him and almost started smiling.
"But I probably wouldn't have gone that time if Phelps wasn't in the pool with me.
"I'm glad he's back. Me and him, we push each other all the time. What he's done for the sport of swimming and him leaving, it kind of broke my heart a little because I love getting to the blocks and racing him.
"Racing against him is so much fun, it's a challenge but I love it and now that's he back, I've got a big old smile.
"Racing against Michael is probably the hardest thing to do. I love it."