Michael Phelps notches first event win of comeback

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Michael Phelps is a winner for the first time since the London Olympics.

The 22-time Olympic medalist captured the 100m butterfly at the Charlotte Grand Prix in 52.13 seconds Friday night. The competition marked the second meet of his comeback.

He retired after the London Olympics, returned to training last year and finished second in the 100m butterfly at the Mesa Grand Prix on April 24.

Phelps, in a white cap, gray waist-to-knee swim trunks and a full beard, swam the same time Friday he did in the Mesa final three weeks ago. He led by .56 of a second hitting the wall at the 25-meter turn and won by .59 (video here).

“I guess the consistency is there,” Phelps said on Universal Sports. “Still, the walls are very bad.”

He’s the three-time reigning Olympic champion in the 100m butterfly. His world record from 2009 is 49.82.

Phelps is finished swimming in Charlotte and will head to Colorado for high-altitude training, reportedly beginning May 27.

“I know it’s good for me, but it’s not always something I enjoy the most,” Phelps said of Colorado.

His next meet could be the Santa Clara Grand Prix in California from June 19-22. The biggest meets of 2014 are later this summer, the U.S. Championships and the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

In other events Friday, Hungarian Katinka Hosszu won the women’s 200m free in 1:56.30, edging Olympic champion Allison Schmitt by .11 in a meeting of the two top female swimmers entered in the meet. Hosszu, the world champion in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, later won the 400m IM by more than four seconds.

World silver medalist Chase Kalisz took the men’s 400m IM in 4:16.38, more than three seconds better than runner-up Tyler Clary.

World silver medalist Conor Dwyer won the men’s 200m free in 1:47.86. Phelps had qualified for that final earlier Friday but scratched out of it. Olympic champion Yannick Agnel was disqualified after the prelims for false starting.

Jessica Hardy won the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.86, the fifth fastest time in the world of 2014 for the world bronze medalist. Olympian Micah Lawrence was second, .62 behind. Two-time Bulgarian Olympian Mike Alexandrov, who tried to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, took the men’s 100m breast in 1:01.48.

Canadian Olympian Katerine Savard won the women’s 100m butterfly in 58.60, .24 over U.S. Olympian Claire Donahue.

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Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

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GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

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Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

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Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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