Michael Phelps is expected to come out of retirement and compete in his first meet since the 2012 Olympics next week, his coach confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. This move paves the way for the 22-time Olympic medalist to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which would be Phelps' fifth Games.
USA Swimming announced Monday that it expects Phelps, along with other swimming stars such as Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky, to compete at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz., from April 24-26.
"As of today, I definitely expect him to swim," Phelps' longtime coach Bob Bowman told USA TODAY Sports by phone Monday. "We're looking forward to it. I think it'll be great for the sport to have Michael compete again. We really don't have any expectations for what might happen. We just want to have some fun with it and see how it goes."
Phelps is entered in the 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle events, Bowman said.
"Those are both on the first day, and he'll probably try both of those (preliminaries) in the morning, see how it goes, and maybe do one final if he gets to the finals," Bowman said. "The next day, he's entered (in the 50 free) and will probably do a 50 butterfly. We don't know yet.
"After this, we can decide what he wants to do next."
Monday's news is not all that surprising, as Phelps had upped his training over the last year and began taking all the necessary steps to make a comeback to competitive swimming. Phelps had rejoined the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's drug testing pool last year and regained his eligibility for competition in March.
"It's historic, it's going to be a media spectacle," Mesa Aquatics Club CEO Paul Smith said. "No other venue has the same feel and proximity to the action as ours. It's going to be thrilling regardless of what shape he (Phelps) is in. There's something about being at pool level that is energizing."
Bowman said he and Phelps decided on competing in Mesa a few months ago.
"This meet happens to be at the right time," Bowman said. "He's eligible to swim in a meet, and he thought it might be fun to do one. We heard this was a great meet. I don't think it was something we had targeted; it came up at the right time."
Contributing: The Arizona Republic