Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps beats Ryan Lochte for first time since Olympics

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Michael Phelps notched another mark in his comeback, defeating Ryan Lochte for the first time since the London Olympics on Friday.

Phelps, in his fourth meet after a 20-month retirement, won a 100m butterfly in Athens, Ga., in 51.67 seconds. His longtime rival Lochte, in his first meet since April, took second in 53.08.

Phelps’ time made him the second fastest man in the event this year, according to SwimVortex.com. He improved by nearly a half-second on his 100m fly finals times from the first three meets of his comeback — 52.13, 52.13 and 52.11.

“I wanted to get under 52,” Phelps said. “I’m sick and tired of seeing 52.1. I guess it was what, seven hundredths off the No. 1 time in the world, so, I guess it’s a decent swim.

“I would have liked to have had the No. 1 time in the world.”

Phelps is the three-time reigning Olympic 100m fly champion, winning in 51.21 in London.

Phelps and Lochte raced once before this year, in a 100m fly in Phelps’ first return meet in April. There, Lochte won 51.93 to 52.13.

“I hope I lose,” Lochte said. “It will just make me more hungry. I hate to lose, and it pisses me off. [Phelps] swam a fantastic race [Friday]. It was really fast.”

Lochte is working his way back from aggravating a November knee injury in April. The 11-time Olympic medalist also won a 200m freestyle consolation final Friday.

Lochte clocked 1:48.69 in the 200m free, which would have placed fourth in the A final won by Olympic and World champion Yannick Agnel. Lochte missed the eight-man A final because he was 14th fastest in the morning preliminary heats. Phelps recorded a 1:48.2 in the 200m free on June 19.

The Bulldog Grand Slam continues Saturday with Phelps scheduled to swim the 100m backstroke. Phelps, Lochte and others are preparing for the U.S. Championships, Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif., which serve as a selection meet for the Pan Pacific Championships, Aug. 21-24 in Gold Coast, Australia, and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

“This is always a big summer for U.S. swimmers because we pick two teams,” Phelps said. “So, you really have to be ready this year. If you’re not, you’re pretty much sitting around until [2016] Olympic Trials.”

In other events Friday, five-time 2012 Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt won the women’s 200m free in 1:58.16, out-touching Olympic relay and former University of Georgia teammate Shannon Vreeland by .18.

Olympian Micah Lawrence took the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:08.5, nearly one second slower than her best time this year. Nic Fink won the men’s race in 1:01.69.

Melanie Margalis won the women’s 400m individual medley in 4:39.84, making her the third-fastest American this year.

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Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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