MESA, Ariz. — Michael Phelps failed to qualify for the 400-meter freestyle final in Arizona on Friday, finishing 17th overall in his first meet since serving a six-month suspension.
Swimming in a far outside lane, the 18-time Olympic gold medalist was fourth in his heat with a time of 4 minutes, 2.67 seconds. That put him in the C final at night, but Phelps' coach Bob Bowman said he won't swim it.
It was Phelps' first time swimming the 400 free in a meet since 2009. He had said he wanted to try the race as a personal challenge.
"Just to see how much I can do and how much I can hang," he said Thursday night.
Now, he will look ahead to Saturday, when he's set to compete in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle, two events more in keeping with his penchant for shorter races at this stage of his career.
Phelps won the 100 butterfly on Thursday as he returned after serving the suspension from USA Swimming for a second drunken driving arrest. He's competing for the first time since last August.
He scratched the 100 backstroke preliminaries Friday.
Phelps' longtime rival, Ryan Lochte, also failed to make the eight-man A final. He finished 11th overall in 3:59.91, landing in the B final.
Michael McBroom was the top qualifier in 3:53.85 and Olympian Tyler Clary was second at 3:55.58.
Clary will be doing a double in the evening, having qualified first in the 200 butterfly at 2:01.42.
Doubling up on the women's side will be Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, who topped the prelims in the 200 fly and 100 backstroke.
Katie Ledecky, the world record holder in the 400 free, qualified fastest in 4:02.67. She was well ahead of Danish Olympian Lotte Friis, who was second in 4:11.87.
Another veteran Olympian, Natalie Coughlin, qualified third-fastest for the 50 free in 25.34 seconds. She uses the chaotic sprint race as a tuneup for the 100 free on Saturday.
The top qualifier was Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bahamas in 24.72.