Michael Phelps finished second to Olympic champion Yannick Agnel in the 200m freestyle at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, the third meet of his comeback, on Saturday.
Phelps, who took 20 months away from competition after the London Olympics, clocked 1 minute, 48.20 seconds in the 200m free. France’s Agnel, his training partner at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, won in 1:46.99 (video here).
“I got left like I was standing still the last 50 [meters] by this guy,” Phelps said on Universal Sports, gesturing to the 6-foot-8 Agnel standing next to him. “That wasn’t really the funnest last 50 ever. It felt good to get my first 200 under my belt, in a final at least.”
Phelps continued to improve his 200m free in his third time racing the event this year, and first final. He swam 1:51.69 in Charlotte, N.C., in May and 1:49.61 in the preliminary heats earlier Saturday.
Phelps beat training partner Conor Dwyer for second place by .16, which was notable given Dwyer won silver behind Agnel in the 200m free at the 2013 World Championships.
Rising California sophomore Missy Franklin won the 200m freestyle and finished third in the 200m backstroke 22 minutes later.
Frankin, who became the first woman to win six golds at a single World Championships last year, finished in 1:56.96 in the 200m free (video here), beating a field that included Olympic champion Allison Schmitt. Schmitt and World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky have both gone faster than 1:56.96 this year.
Franklin came back to finish third behind Elizabeth Beisel and Liz Pelton in the 200m back. Beisel won in 2:09.11, followed by Pelton in 2:09.73 and Franklin in 2:09.86. Franklin is the Olympic and World champion in the 200m back and the world record holder.
Phelps and Franklin are expected to swim the 200m individual medley on the final day of the meet Sunday. Franklin is also entered in the 100m backstroke.
U.S. swimmers are gearing up for the summer’s two biggest meets in August, the U.S. Championships in Irvine, Calif., and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.
In other events Saturday, Beisel blew out the 400m IM field by 6.26 seconds, posting 4:33.52. Beisel, who has won 400m IM medals at four straight major international meets, improved to No. 4 in the world this year.
World silver medalist Chase Kalisz cruised to win the men’s 400m IM by 5.78 seconds in 4:11.71. That’s the fifth fastest time in the world this year.
“I actually wanted to be a little bit faster,” said Kalisz, who came to Santa Clara from altitude training with Phelps and other North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Three-time Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin beat U.S. Olympic champion Tyler Clary in the 200m back, 1:55.5 to 1:58.41.
Brazil’s Bruno Fratus captured the men’s 50m free in 22.03, which was a comfy .55 better than second place Anthony Ervin, the 2000 co-Olympic champion. Fratus finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic 50m free and is Brazil’s second best sprinter behind Cesar Cielo.
Cheyenne Coffman took the women’s 50m free in 25.12.