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Michael Phelps gets back into the water to race in Charlotte

Swimmer Michael Phelps speaks to reporters in Charlotte. hspace=4

Michael Phelps will make his return to competitive swimming in Charlotte since winning eight gold medals and being suspended after a photo showed him smoking a marijuana bong. The Charlotte Ultraswim doesn't usually charge $20 a ticket, normally the events don't sell out, and most certainly reporters from France and the United Kingdom don't make the trip. But figure in the Phelps factor this year and that's what happens. About fifty reporters showed up for a press conference to ask Phelps about the last few months. One reporter asked if Phelps thought the public had forgiven him for the bong picture. "It's a question I should be asking you guys," responded Phelps. For the most part Phelps focused on what's ahead of him. He's preparing for the 2012 Olympics and says this weekend's meet is his first step toward that goal. "I'm excited to get back in the water and race. That's the one thing I love the most is competing," said Phelps. Phelps will be swimming in four events between now and Sunday at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. At least fifteen American Olympians and more than 20 overall will be competing in the Charlotte UltraSwim.