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Michael Phelps made a strong return to competitive swimming on Thursday at the Arena Grand Prix qualifiers, edging out fellow Olympian Ryan Lochte.
The Olympic medal-winning swimmer posted the fastest time in the 100-meter butterfly heats, reports Reuters. He swam the race in 52.84 seconds, compared to Lochte's 52.94.
"It was fun to get the first race out of the way," Phelps said.
"I actually felt pretty controlled," the 18-time gold medal athlete said after the race. "I literally was just so excited to get in and race."
According to USA Today, Phelps commented that he had some things to improve upon after he and coach Bob Bowman looked over video of the race at Skyline Aquatic Center in Phoenix.
But Phelps says he was more relaxed ahead of this race than he had in a long time. Reuters notes he was seen in a jovial mood during the day as he talked and joked with Lochte. "I'm more relaxed now than I ever was."
In his first competitive meet since returning to swimming, Phelps had planned on swimming in the 100 meter freestyle, the 100 meter butterfly and the 50 meter freestyle, but pulled out of the first race. The third race isn't until Friday.