CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Phelps is back in a familiar spot: the top of the podium.
Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly Friday night at the Charlotte Grand Prix, the first victory of his comeback.
Going out strong and remaining comfortably ahead on the return leg, Phelps cruised to victory in 52.13 seconds, about a half body-length ahead of runner-up Pavel Sankovich, a 2012 Olympian from Belarus.
Phelps matched his time exactly from the 100 fly at last month's meet in Mesa, Arizona, where he returned to competition for the first time since retiring after the London Olympics. But this time, with longtime rival Ryan Lochte watching from the VIP area, Phelps had the pool all to himself.
The overflowing crowd at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center roared when he touched the wall first.