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Five For Friday: Swimming

By Paul D. Bowker | April 17, 2015, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Michael Phelps competes in the 100-meter butterfly during the Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Acquatic Center on April 16, 2015 in Mesa, Ariz.

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Eighteen-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who is back from a USA Swimming suspension, is clearly aiming for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games as he swims in this week’s Arena Pro Swim Series event in Mesa, Arizona.

“I am looking forward to next year,” Phelps told reporters Wednesday at the Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa. “I don’t think it’s too hard to really realize why I came back.”

Other Olympic gold medalists in the power-packed field include Ryan Lochte, Matt Grevers, Natalie Coughlin and Katie Ledecky.

Ledecky won the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle on the opening night of the meet Wednesday, capturing the gold medal with a time of 15 minutes, 42.23 and winning the race by 50 meters.

“I think it was really good of me to swim it just because I haven’t raced in two months,” said Ledecky, who went on to win the 200-meter freestyle Thursday.

The competition is the first for Phelps since he was suspended for six months by USA Swimming after a second DUI arrest in September 2014.

“I have been able to come out on a better end, have a clear head,” Phelps said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been like this once in my life.”

Phelps began the swim meet by winning the 100-meter butterfly Thursday. Eleven-time Olympic medalist Lochte finished second.

TV: 9 p.m. ET Friday, Universal Sports

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.