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Return to best will take time: US swimming legend Phelps

BRISBANE -- American swimming superstar Michael Phelps said Saturday it would take time to return to his best ahead of next week's Pan Pacific Championships in Australia.

Phelps, the 18-time Olympic gold medalist, returned to competition in April after a retirement that lasted nearly two years and finished this month's U.S. Championships without a title.

Phelps, 29, is preparing for his first international meet since the 2012 London Olympics after ending his retirement from swimming.

The greatest Olympian of all time will contest the 200 meters individual medley and the 100 meters butterfly at the four-day PanPacs starting on Thursday as part of a 60-strong U.S. team also featuring Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

“Losing by a hundredth (of a second) and losing by five one-hundredths at the (U.S.) nationals in two out of three events was frustrating,” Phelps told reporters after team training in Brisbane.

“But I am taking it a lot slower now than what I did before because I do understand that I need to give my body time to get back and build up to where I want to be.

“I can't just expect to do everything I want from the get-go.

“Being able to have a year-and-a-half off, I've been able to learn a lot about myself and I still have that competitive side.

“It's still the same with anything I want to do. But it's going to take a little time for me to get back. We're doing it slowly.”

Phelps, who has won 22 Olympic medals, sealed his place in the U.S. team for the PanPacs with a second silver medal at the U.S. national titles last week, finishing just 0.05sec behind world record-holder Lochte in the 200m individual medley.

Lochte said he knew Phelps would return to the sport, despite quitting for a time after the London Olympics.

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