Janet Evans, a four-time Olympic gold medallist mounting a comeback at the age of 40, qualified on Friday for the US Olympic swimming trials, moving a step closer to booking a London berth.
Former world record-holder Evans won her 400m freestyle heat at the Austin Grand Prix in 4min 17.27sec, comfortably inside the trials qualifying standard of 4:19.39.
She sliced some five seconds off the best time posted in her comeback, although her swim in the evening's consolation final showed how much work she has ahead of her if she is to make the team for the London Olympics July 27-August 12.
In the "B" final, Evans finished in last place in 4:18.15.
"I was a little tight, a little tired," Evans acknowledged. "But this is all good. There's a lot to be happy about today."
Evans, who was a 17-year-old star at the Seoul Olympics -- where she won three gold medals and set the 400m free world record -- is now a married mother of two.
She admitted she was nervous prior to her preliminary race.
"I'm usually that spectator in the stands these days and now I'm down here with all the young kids, all the kids I've been watching swim over the years," said Evans, who also won Olympic gold at Barcelona in 1992. "I kept remembering I've been here, I've done this before. It all kind of comes back."
Evans said meetings like the Austin Grand Prix, second stop on USA Swimming's Grand Prix series, is the kind of test she needs.
"We came here for some competition," Evans said.
Allison Schmidt won the women's 400m free in 4:05.90 -- breaking the pool record of 4:06.43 that Evans set during the 1988 Olympic trials.
But Evans said her comeback is really keyed to the 800m free, which she will race here on Sunday.
"I never had any illusion the 400 was going to be my race," she said.
In other events on Friday, 14-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps won the men's 100 butterfly in 52.41 seconds.
In the 100m freestyle, Phelps only made it into the consolation final, which he won in a time of 49.14.
That would have put him third in the championship final won by Nathan Adrian in 48.97sec. Ricky Berens was second in 49.13 and South Africa's Gideon Louw third in 49.19.
"I think I was able to come back and race pretty hard. One thing I really haven't done all year is really go in and go for a race and I kind of felt like I did a better job of that," Phelps said. "I'm fairly pleased, but I always want to be faster."
Phelps is entered in four more races -- the 400m individual medley, the 100m breaststroke, the 100m backstroke and the 200m medley.
"I'm just trying to get in shape," he said.