CHARLOTTE — Michael Phelps saw a familiar number next to his name on the timing board Friday night.
In his second final since returning to competitive swimming, Phelps touched first in a time of 52.13 seconds in the men’s 100-meter butterfly at the Charlotte Grand Prix.
It was the 22-time Olympic medalist’s first victory since the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The sellout crowd at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center came alive as soon as Phelps entered the pool area from the waiting room, and it roared when he touched first. Phelps responded with a small wave to the crowd before exiting the pool for his typical long cooldown in the adjacent pool.
“It’s nice seeing a number one next to your name,” Phelps joked after his race.
But the consummate perfectionist’s comments quickly changed to criticism of his starts, turns and stroke count — all things be hopes to remedy in the next three months ahead of U.S. nationals in Irvine, Calif.
His time matched his second-place swim in Mesa, Ariz., where he lost to longtime rival Ryan Lochte, who missed swimming in Charlotte because of a lingering knee injury.
“It felt better than Mesa; it felt more relaxed than Mesa,” Phelps said. “The consistency is there, which is good.”
In 10 days, Phelps and the North Baltimore Aquatic Club will head to the Olympic Training Center for 30 days in Colorado Springs, where they’ll train in the high altitude.
“I don’t really like being up there, but I know that I really benefit from it,” Phelps said.
Andrew Seliskar, the 2013-14 All-Met Swimmer of the Year, finished third in the men’s 400 individual medley with a time of 4 minutes 19.72 seconds. North Baltimore’s Chase Kalisz, 20, won the event in 4:16.38, and Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary took second in 4:19.57.
“I’m really happy about doing that time in season,” Seliskar said. “I was a lot better on the back half than I have been before.”
The time was a personal best for Seliskar, who is in the middle of a difficult training stretch with Coach John Flanagan and the Tyson’s Nation’s Capital group.
“Everyone is talking about nationals this summer, and that is going to be our big meet, which I’m really excited about,” Seliskar said.
The time ranks fifth in the United States in 2014. Seliskar also finished 19th overall in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.69.
Matt McLean, another former All-Met, also reached the podium in Charlotte with a second-place finish in the men’s 200 freestyle. McLean nearly charged down Conor Dwyer, who touched in a winning time of 1:47.86; McLean finished in 1:48.73.
“Before the race we knew it would be a fun one; we have no shortage of those in workouts,” McLean said of his NBAC training partner.