Michael Phelps continues experimenting in comeback

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps‘ third comeback meet is about “experimenting,” his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, said Thursday.

Phelps expounded, one day before his first of a potential eight swims at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, sure to be his busiest meet since unretiring.

“Hopefully I can come out of this meet with positive swims to help me move forward to take one step closer to Nationals [from Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif],” Phelps said. “Also work on the technical things. That’s something I’d like to see more of, having a controlled stroke, having a stroke that I know how to do. Getting in and out of the walls like I know how to. It’s really the small things that I’d like to work on getting back.”

Phelps is entered in four events this weekend — the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly Friday, the 200m free Saturday and the 200m individual medley Sunday. He swam two events each in his first two comeback meets in April and May, winning his first race since the London Olympics last month.

Phelps originally dipped his toes back in the water last year to shed 25 pounds. He’s eating a cleaner diet now, he said, and recently completed an altitude camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he said he got the competitive juices flowing the last day in a 100m free race against French training partner Yannick Agnel.

“There are some times that are very challenging,” he said. “I found those times in Colorado, when we were training there the last couple weeks.”

Phelps is expected to race one more meet before Nationals, which serve as a selection meet for the biggest meets the next two years — the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia later in August and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Phelps has said he will never swim a 400m IM again and also doesn’t have designs on the 200m fly. The only other individual events he has entered at the Olympics are on his Santa Clara schedule (100m fly, 200m free and 200m IM). He’s long raced the 100m free distance as part of the 4x100m free relay at international meets, too.

Still, he’s not disclosing his goals. That’s typical Phelps.

“The ones who can help me get there know what the goals are,” said Phelps, who then said Bowman is pretty much the only other person who knows the goals.

What’s the biggest challenge for the most decorated Olympian of all time? Waking early for workouts can be brutal, he said, yet he’s smiling in training more than ever before.

“As much as I try to stay away from the sport for as long as I can,” Phelps joked, “something keeps drawing me back into the water.”

Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin lead Santa Clara GP storylines