On the first night of the Arena Pro Series in Mesa on Thursday, Olympic champions like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin showed that they are setting up to have strong swims at U.S. Olympic Trials. However, only Ledecky that pulled off a win in an "A" final of the 200m freestyle; the other components of swimming's "big four" won consolation finals. The Pro Series is a tune-up meet leading up to trials, held June 26 to July 3.
Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 18 gold medals, put audible air quotes around the notion that the Arena Pro Series stop in Mesa, Arizona was his "comeback meet" during a press conference Wednesday (video here).
In his only event of the evening, the 200m freestyle, Phelps clocked one minute, 48:21 to win the consolation final. Conor Dwyer took the top flight final in 1:46.61 while Lochte touched for third place in 1:48:85.
Phelps didn't swim the 200m freestyle at the 2014 Mesa meet -- his return to swimming following 20 months competitive retirement -- or the 2015 Mesa Pro Series stop, which came after his six-month drunken driving suspension.
Franklin and Ledecky both swam the 200m freestyle, but didn't match up head-to-head. Ledecky -- who just finished up a four-week stint at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs -- touched for first place in 1:55.71. 2012 Olympic champion Allison Schmitt was second in 1:56.52. Franklin led the consolation final field with a 1:58.64.
Relative newcomer Katie Meili -- who won gold in the 100m breaststroke at the 2015 Pan American Games -- edged out Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson for first place in the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.49.
Dana Vollmer, 2012 Olympic champion in the 100m butterfly, held off a late charge from two-time NCAA 100-yard butterfly champion Kelsi Worrell. Vollmer clocked 56.94 to Worrell's 57.27.