BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In less than 24 hours, Baltimore’s star swimmer, Michael Phelps, returns to competition. It’s his first race in 18 months and it’s fueling questions about a possible Olympic comeback in 2016.

Linh Bui has his first comments about his return to racing.

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Starting Thursday, the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, dips his toe back into the competitive pool.

“It is gonna be fun. I’m looking forward to being here,” he said.

The 28-year-old Towson native is in Mesa, Ariz., ahead of the Arena Grand Prix, where he will race in three events.

For the first time Wednesday, Phelps explains why he’s competing again.

“I played golf, I traveled, I gained 30 pounds, had a lot of fun,” he said. “And there’s something I missed—being able to be back in the pool and being able to just go to the pool and be back at North Baltimore and be with the group I’m with now. It’s incredible.”

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The 22-time Olympic medalist insisted he was finished after he won his last six medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“I signed my retirement papers after London. There are no plans to head back to swim in Rio,” Phelps said at the time.

Phelps returned to training last fall with local coach Bob Bowman at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Mount Washington. But he’s still not saying whether he’s got his eye on even more Olympic medals in Rio.

“I’m at least going with my mom–whether I’m in the pool or in the stands, I guess time will tell,” he said.

Depending how he does this weekend, Phelps could compete in the U.S. National Championships in August, where teams will be selected for the 2015 World Championships.

In addition to Phelps, star Olympians Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky are also competing in Mesa this weekend.

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Linh Bui