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Olympic gold-medalist Michael Phelps has splashed ahead to win the gold at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia this weekend. After retiring for almost two years, the swimmer decided to get back in the water and try again for greatness.
The Pan Pacific Championships swim meet began on Thursday, attempting to thwart its participants with cold, rainy weather. The 10-lane competition pool does not have a roof, adding an obstacle for the world’s top swimmers who were competing in bad weather.
Rain or shine, Phelps was there at the pool ready to give it his all. On Friday the 29-year-old athlete won his first international meet since returning from retirement. Phelps placed fourth in his first final of the 100 free but came back strong when he contributed in helping the United States win gold in the 4×200-meter relay. Phelps swam the second leg of the relay and looked on as Matt McLean overtook Japan swimmer Takeshi Matsuda during the last lap of the race.
Phelps was excited about his first relay win stating that there was no better way to end the rainy evening then to “step up with your teammates and win a gold medal.”
On Saturday night, Michael Phelps splashed ahead and beat Ryan Lochte in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.29. This was Phelps’ first individual gold-medal-win at the Pan Pacific Championships since before he took leave after the 2012 Olympics in London.
That same morning, Phelps swam the 100 butterfly event with a slightly slower time in the prelims of 51.57 seconds. The weather was a bit intense, and the swimmer stated that the rain was “blowing sideways.” Even with the heavy rain, the Americans finished with the five fastest times in the preliminaries. Lochte and Phelps were the top two places, followed by Tim Phillips, Tom Shields, and Matt Ellis. The rain let up a bit in the evening, encouraging Phelps and the other competing swimmers to give nothing but their best in the water.
Phelps stated that all of the swimmers were competing under the same conditions, so the defining moment was whether or not they could block out the rain and “swim how they’ve been trained to.”
Before his retirement the Olympian was so proficient at blocking everything out during a swim meet that he would not even talk much to his teammates. This time around, however, Phelps’ swimmer buddies stated that he is a lot less detached and more sociable since he came back to the pool from his small break.
Phelps laughed while he said, “I’ve actually started talking to other people. I never used to talk to anybody.”
After his win in the 100-meter butterfly, the swimmer has now guaranteed himself a spot in an individual event at the World Championships next year. In addition, Phelps will also swim in both freestyle relays and in the 4×100 medley relay.
Michael Phelps has splashed ahead, winning gold at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia after taking almost two years off. The 22-time Olympic gold medalist has returned to the pool with determination and dedication to the sport. “I know that there is a lot that can happen in a year with training and that is what I’m looking forward to,” he said.
By Amy Nelson