16 May 2009

Phelps second in first swim since Beijing

6:31 am on 16 May 2009

The American swimming star Michael Phelps has finished second in his first race since capturing eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

Competing in a 200-metre freestyle heat in Charlotte, North Carolina, the 23-year-old American superstar swam his morning preliminary heat in 1:50.46, trailing winner Darvis Tarwater by 0.35 of a second.

Phelps, who set the world 200 free record of 1min 42.96 seconds last year at Beijing, was the third-fastest qualifier among eight swimmers to reach the event's final

Making his first strokes toward the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps plans to also swim in the 100 butterfly, the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke and the 100 freestyle.

Phelps has just served a three-month USA Swimming ban for being photographed holding a bong, a pipe commonly used to smoke marijuana.