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I felt like a kid again: Phelps

Phoenix: He did not win any gold medals or set any world records but Michael Phelps ticked all the boxes he needed in his comeback to competitive swimming.

Only time will tell whether Phelps will stick with his comeback and swim at the 2016 Rio Olympics and possibly add to his mind-boggling collection of 18 gold medals.

But for now, the signs are all good. The 28-year-old deliberately chose a relatively low key meet in suburban Phoenix for his return and competed in just two events but there were enough signs to show he can do it if he wants to.

“On the whole,” he said on Friday. “I think it felt pretty good. I was very excited... I felt like a kid again and that was the coolest thing about it.”

Despite his staggering achievements, Phelps and long-time coach Bob Bowman have always been coy about revealing their plans and nothing has changed.

Both insist they have not hatched any long term plans and are sticking to the sportsman's mantra that they are taking things one day at a time although a clearly relaxed Phelps said he was enjoying himself and his times indicated he was already in good shape.

“I was just kind of literally getting my feet wet again,” he said.

“This is one meet, it’s one race. It’s a long way from whether I decide to continue or not, but this was awesome.

“I’m really excited about how things went and I do know what I need to do if I want to continue and want to swim faster and obviously I like swimming faster and faster every race.”

While Rio may still be more than two years ago, Phelps and Bowman did give away some clues about their short-term plans. Phelps will swim again at another US Grand Prix meet in Charlotte, North Carolina next month before heading to Colorado for intense high-altitude training.

“His training is much different, it’s actually half and in some cases a third of what he used to do,” Bowman said. “What we’re doing wouldn’t work for 17 swims in eight days but it might work for six or seven swims in shorter races.

Bowman was also pleased with Phelps' return. He comfortably won his 100m butterfly heat on Thursday then finished a close second to old rival Ryan Lochte in the final that same night, showing some unsurprising signs of rustiness.

“I’m so glad he’s back.” said Lochte said. “Me and him, we’ve got history. When he left swimming, it kind of broke my heart a little because I love getting on the blocks and racing him.”