It didn't take long for Michael Phelps to overcome a discouraging first day at the U.S. swimming championships in Irvine.
Phelps rebounded during preliminary heats on Friday morning, swimming the fastest 100-meter butterfly time in the world this year.
"This has kind of been my kind of event," he said, "the event I love swimming the most."
His time of 51.17 seconds put him just ahead of four others -- including Ryan Lochte -- who finished under 52 seconds. It was also faster than the time Phelps swam to win gold in this event at the 2012 London Olympics.
Phelps is competing in his fifth meet since coming back from a nearly two-year retirement. On Thursday, he finished seventh in the 100 freestyle.
The 100 butterfly final is scheduled for Friday evening. Phelps needs a high finish at this meet to qualify for the American team that will travel to the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia later this month.