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Phelps continues building on return with third in 200 IM

(Reuters) - Michael Phelps continued his return to competitive swimming with third place in the 200 meters individual medley at the Arena Grand Prix at Santa Clara on Sunday.

Phelps, competing in the 200 medley for the first time since taking gold at the 2012 London Olympics, showed early flashes of that form before running out of steam.

The 22-time Olympic medalist led through the first three lengths but tailed off and finished with a time of one minute, 59.76 seconds, behind Conor Dwyer (1:59.49) and Chase Kalisz, who finished second in 1:59.53.

Phelps, known for his strong finishing kick, lacked one in his third meeting since he jolted the swimming world by coming out of retirement. He also tired badly in the final length in the 200 freestyle on Saturday.

His showing at the Santa Clara event, however, can be considered progress as he increased his work load and swam more events than he had at his previous two meetings.

Phelps added Sunday's third-place finish to a tie for first in the 100 butterfly and second in both the 100 and 200 freestyle.

He is expected to compete at the U.S. Nationals and Pan Pacific Championships in August before possibly having another tilt at the Olympics in 2016 in Rio.

Olympic champion Missy Franklin captured the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:00.99, ahead of Amy Bilquist who finished in 1:01.44.

"I'm happy with the race but not the time," Franklin told reporters. "It's an indication of what I need to work on.

"A lot of stuff I'm still figuring out. I've been trying some new things and I'm excited to get back and work."

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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