Updated: Sunday, 22 June 2014 05:30 | By Agence France-Presse

Phelps fifth-fastest in 200m free heats

Olympic superstar Michael Phelps cruised into the 200m freestyle final at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on Saturday with the fifth-fastest time of the heats.


Phelps fifth-fastest in 200m free heats

Michael Phelps competes in the men's 200 meter freestyle preliminaries during the 2014 Arena Grand Prix of Santa Clara at the George F. Haines International Swim Center on June 21, 2014 in Santa Clara, California - by Ezra Shaw

Phelps, the 18-time Olympic gold medalist who ended a near two-year retirement in April to start a comeback that could take him to the Rio Games in 2016, finished second in his heat in 1min 49.61sec.

That put him safely into the evening's final, with Clay Youngquist topping the qualifying times in 1:48.96 ahead of Phelps's training partners Conor Dwyer (1:49.22) and France's world and Olympic champion Yannick Agnel (1:49.27).

Mitch D'Arrigo, who out-touched Phelps in their heat, had the fourth-quickest time of the morning of 1:49.57.

The Grand Prix meeting in Santa Clara, California is Phelps' third meet since his return and his busiest.

On Friday, he tied for first place in the 100m butterfly with Tom Shields, and finished second in the 100m freestyle behind Olympic champion Nathan Adrian.

Once famed for his multiple medal challenges -- including his glittering eight-gold campaign at the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- Phelps admitted Friday that he wasn't sure how his body would respond to the demands of multiple events.

However, his 200m free time Saturday morning was more than two seconds faster than he clocked in his only other 200m free race of his comeback -- a 1:51.69 in the preliminaries at the Charlotte Grand Prix in May.

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