Michael Phelps debuted a new stroke as he placed second in his 50metres freestyle heat on day two of the Charlotte Ultraswim meet in North Carolina today.
Phelps had given a preview of his new, windmill style when winning the 200m freestyle final at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Centre last night, one of two victories on his first day back in competition since winning a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics last August.
This meet also marks Phelps’ return to the pool following the completion of a three-month ban imposed by USA Swimming after the 23-year-old American was photographed with equipment for using marijuana.
Having won the 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly last night, Phelps was back in the water in the 50m free and looked comfortable in second place, clocking 23.24seconds behind heat winner Jared White to reach the final.
Phelps’ Beijing team-mate Cullen Jones won the previous heat in 22.27secs, while 50m freestyle world record holder Frederick Bousquet of France was edged out in his heat by Trinidad and Tobago’s George Bovell. Bousquet clocked 22.37 with Bovell setting a meet record in 21.88.
The 23-year-old was back in the pool minutes later for the final heat of the 100m backstroke, racing next to world record holder and US team-mate Aaron Peirsol, who lived up to his top seeding by winning in 55.56, touching just ahead of Phelps, who clocked 55.61.
Former European junior champion Marco Loughran of Guildford but now training at the University of Florida placed fifth in 58.25.
His Wales team-mate Jemma Lowe, sixth in the 100m butterfly final in Beijing, qualified for the 200m fly final.
The 19-year-old, still needing to qualify for this summer’s world championships in Rome at next month’s trials in Glasgow, clocked 2:14.65, fourth fastest overall.