Michael Phelps finished third in the 100 meters butterfly at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday and conceded he still has a lot of work to do in his bid to return to Olympic competition in Rio next year.
Phelps, competing in his second meet following a six-month ban for a drunk driving conviction, finished behind winner Tom Shields and runner-up Ryan Lochte.
"My turns are still pretty terrible," the 18-times Olympic gold medallist told reporters.
"But it's a lot better than what it was last year." Phelps, the fastest 100 butterfly swimmer in the world last year with a best time of 51.17 seconds, clocked 52.59 on Friday.
Shields won in a time of 52.12.
Earlier in the day, Phelps failed to qualify for the 200 freestyle final after clocking the 14th fastest time in his heat.
At the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Mesa, Arizona last month, Phelps won the 100 butterfly but failed to reach the 400 freestyle final.
He is scheduled to compete in the 200 butterfly and 100 backstroke on Saturday.
His participation in the 200 butterfly will mark the first time he has competed in the race since the 2012 London Olympics.
"For me to ever want to really compete at that race, I would make sure that I was in the best shape possible," Phelps said. "I know what I have to do to be able to get there."