6 best swims of the London Games

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The swimming competition at the London Olympics certainly provided a tremendous amount of exciting moments. Here is a quick list of the top six best swims of the meet:

6. Michael Phelps wins 100m butterfly
After touching seventh at the turn, Phelps surged over the last 50 meters to win by 0.23 seconds. That margin of victory was impressive considering he won by 0.04 in Athens and by 0.01 in Beijing. No other male swimmer had ever won the same event in three straight Olympics before Phelps and this was his second time doing it in London. His terrific meet also included a victory in the 200m IM over Ryan Lochte; who likewise deserves a shout out for his gold-medal performance in the 400m IM.

5. Sun Yang smashes his own world record in 1500m freestyle
After jumping in the pool on a starter’s miscue (and showing clear frustration after having his concentration broken) Sun took complete control of the men’s 1500m. He paced well ahead of his previous world record the entire race, and his final time of 14:31.02 was more than three seconds faster. Adding Sun’s win in the 400m freestyle, and Ye Shiwen’s victories in the 200m and 400m IM made it an incredible meet for the Chinese standouts.

4. U.S. Women break the world record in the 4x100m medley relay
The star-studded medley relay of Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt ended their meet fittingly with a gold medal and a world record. Each member of the relay had already won individual gold in London, and then pulled their strengths to break the world mark by 0.14 seconds. Looking at their individual performances; Soni became the first woman to break 2:20 in the 200m breaststroke, Vollmer was the first ever under 56 seconds in the 100m butterfly, and Schmitt took home five medals.

3. 15-year-old Katie Ledecky wins the 800m free
The youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team took her race out fearlessly ahead of a field that included defending Olympic champion and host favorite, Rebecca Adlington. Ledecky never fell out of the lead after the first 150 meters, posted a new personal best time in her 400m split (4:04.34), and broke Janet Evans’ American Record (the longest standing American record on the books), in finishing with a time of 8:14.63.

2. Missy Franklin breaks world record in 200m back
Missy had an outstanding meet before her 200m backstroke, and then gave a performance in her signature event that put her at a whole new level. Missy swam a near perfect race from start to finish, beating the next closest finisher by 1.86 seconds and shattering the world record by 0.75 seconds. It was stunning to watch how flawlessly the 17-year-old handled the pressure of her first Olympics, and she shone brightest when the most was expected of her.

1. Nathan Adrian wins 100m free by 0.01 seconds.
Adrian slid under the radar in London as most of the attention was paid to reigning world champ James Magnussen and Brazil’s Cesar Cielo. But Adrian stayed close enough to Magnussen early, then edged past him to out-touch the Australian by 0.01 seconds. It wasn’t a new world record, or even an American record, but it was the type of gritty, hard-fought race that makes the sport of swimming worth watching. The pure elation in Adrian’s face after he touched the wall summed up what it means to be an Olympic champion, and made his race the most exciting swim of the London Games.

Michael Phelps to participate in Shark Week

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NEW YORK (AP) — Olympic champ Michael Phelps is participating in Discovery network’s Shark Week this summer, although he won’t be asked to outswim one.

It’s not immediately clear what Phelps will be doing, although Discovery President Rich Ross said Tuesday he’s intrigued about seeing the fastest human swimmer interact with nature’s fastest. Perhaps Phelps can be encouraged to go underwater in a shark cage, he said.

The week of shark-themed programming in mid-summer is annually Discovery’s biggest event. Now that it is approaching its 29th year, programmers are on the lookout for a new wrinkle.

Phelps has won 28 Olympic swimming medals, 23 of them gold.

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World Figure Skating Championships ice dance preview

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Alex Shibutani says he and sister Maia have made a statement the past two years.

“With our ability to perform when the stakes are highest,” he said.

The stakes don’t get much higher than this week.

The Shibutani siblings, breakout world silver medalists a year ago, lead three U.S. couples who finished in the top six at the 2016 World Championships into this year’s worlds in Helsinki.

It is the strongest ice dance field since the Sochi Olympics. The PyeongChang Winter Games medal contenders will be confirmed this week.

The clear favorites are Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic champions competing this season for the first time since taking silver in Sochi. Virtue and Moir returned from their two-year break to post the three highest total scores of all time in their last three international competitions.

“This is probably the most prepared we’ve been for a world championships,” Moir said, while adding, “this was a warm-up season.”

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The Shibutanis finished second (with a personal-best score) to Virtue and Moir at the most recent event, the Four Continents Championships at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea in February. The margin separating the two couples — 5.1 points — was considerable.

“We’re sort of in a way in a race against ourselves to try and see how good we can get and how good we can become,” Alex Shibutani said. “Each competition along the way is another step to that eventual goal [the Olympics].”

At worlds, the Shibutanis are in the medal mix with France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who won the last two world titles.

The French, already the youngest world champs in 40 years, are trying for the first ice dance three-peat in 20 years.

But they have not progressed this season, unable to match or better their winning score from the 2016 World Championships.

Papadakis and Cizeron train in Montreal with Virtue and Moir, but they struggled (held against their own standard) in both competitions outside of French borders this season. And in different areas — step sequences, twizzles, lifts.

Conversely, it looks like the Shibutanis’ biggest obstacles are well behind them. They went from a world bronze medal in their first senior season together in 2011 to four straight years off the podium.

The Shibutanis hit a nadir at the Sochi Olympics with a ninth-place finish, worst of the three U.S. couples. Maia’s tights snagged on Alex’s sequined jacket during a lift.

The devoted vloggers countered doubts after Sochi by stressing their youth — Alex was 22 then; Maia was 19. They talked about weathering the journey and sticking to a meticulous creative process.

It paid off with their first U.S. title last year, followed by that world silver medal in Boston.

“Last year’s results at the world championships were very energizing for us,” Alex Shibutani said. “People are aware of the career trajectory that we have had. We’ve set ambitious goals because we were so motivated following that result and that exciting string of competitions that we had last season.”

The Shibutanis were actually outscored by two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates in the U.S. Championships free dance in January. They stormed back with that personal best at Four Continents, though, erasing any doubt that they are the U.S. couple expected to make the podium in Helsinki.

The U.S. has earned 12 ice dance medals at the last 12 World Championships. In that same span, the U.S. brought home eight medals combined from men’s, women’s and pairs.

The Shibutanis feel confident they will extend recent American success in their discipline.

They would also create more history for sibling skaters. They’re already the most accomplished brother-sister duo since Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France won three straight world medals followed by Olympic silver in Albertville.

“We really elevated the way that we compete and perform,” at Four Continents last month, Alex Shibutani said. “Our skating has reached another level.”

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