Santa Clara (California) - Olympic legend Michael Phelps and 2012 London Olympic star Missy Franklin each finished third on Friday in the 200 metres freestyle in their opening events at a United States Pro Swim Series meet.
Phelps, an 18-time Olympic champion with 22 career Olympic medals in the pool, was looking for some strong times to build confidence ahead of high-altitude training in Colorado and the US championships in August.
The 29-year-old came home third in 1min 49.03sec, trailing American winner Connor Jaeger's 1:48.66 and Russian runner-up Nikita Lobintsev on 1:48.86.
That represents improvement from last month at Charlotte and his preliminary heat, though he still ranks well off the world top-10 pace in the event.
At Charlotte, North Carolina, he failed to reach the championship A final in both the 200m individual medley and 100m freestyle. He also did not qualify for the 200m free final and finished a distant seventh in the 200m butterfly.
Phelps was second in the 200m free last year at Santa Clara in 1:48.20.
After serving a six-month ban following a drink-driving incident last September, he was removed from the US squad competing at the world championships in Kazan from July 24 to Aug 9.
But he is keeping an eye on the times from Russia, as he competes for American crowns at San Antonio to see how he fares a year ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Franklin, competing in her first pro meet and first of any kind since the US college finals last March, was third (1:57.02) in the women's 200m free behind Netherlands star Femke Heemskerk in 1:55.68 and Hungary's Katinka Hosszu in 1:56.88.
The 20-year-old later finished eighth in the 50m backstroke in 29.33, well behind the winning time of 27.51 from US veteran Natalie Coughlin.
Phelps is down to swim three events today on the concluding day of the US series.