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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.

U.S. Olympic Committee to hire infectious disease specialists for Zika

Christ the Redeemer
AP
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The U.S. Olympic Committee will hire two infectious disease specialists to advise potential Olympians who are worried about the Zika outbreak in Brazil.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter Wednesday to all possible Olympians, acknowledging the growing worries over the virus.

“I know that the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is of concern to many of you,” Blackmun wrote. “I want to emphasize that it is to us, as well, and that your well-being in Rio this summer is our highest priority.”

The letter goes on to spell out much of the information that’s already been relayed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. About 20 percent of those infected display mild symptoms, including body aches and rash. But pregnant women and those considering getting pregnant have greater reason for concern because the virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this week, U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo said if the Olympics were being held now, she wouldn’t go.

Blackmun told The Associated Press that Solo’s comments “made us realize we need to provide concise and accurate info for our athletes.”

At least one of the two infectious disease specialists will be a woman, Blackmun said.

In addition to those two hires, the USOC will post updates to its website at USOC.org/RioTravelUpdates.

The USOC’s decision to hire the specialists was first reported by USA Today.

The letter, addressed to prospective members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic delegation, says “no matter how much we prepare … there will always be risk associated with international competition. Each country, each venue and each discipline will present different risks and require different mitigation strategies.”

Blackmun said the USOC is monitoring the frequent updates regarding Zika. The letter makes note that “rapid testing to determine if an individual is infected is expected in the near future.”

“First and foremost, we want to make sure our athletes have accurate information because they’re concerned,” Blackmun said. “Based on what we know now, the primary threat is to unborn children.”

MORE: Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

Alex Morgan scores 12 seconds into U.S. Olympic qualifying romp (video)

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Alex Morgan wasted no time igniting the U.S. women’s soccer team’s Olympic qualifying campaign.

The striker scored the first of her two goals 12 seconds into the Americans’ CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament-opening 5-0 rout of Costa Rica on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas.

It’s believed to be the fastest goal in U.S. Soccer history, according to U.S. Soccer.

“I think we shocked Costa Rica’s confidence a little bit,” Morgan said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “We’ve been working on that play, so I’m glad that we executed it perfectly.”

Crystal DunnCarli Lloyd and Christen Press also scored for the Americans, who are ranked No. 1 in the world. Costa Rica is ranked No. 34.

“Overall, we brought the fight,” Lloyd said on Live Extra. “We’ve got to put this one to bed and move on.”

The first three goals came in the first 15 minutes.

GOAL VIDEOS: Dunn | LloydMorgan’s second | Press

The U.S. is in one of two CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament groups with Costa Rica, Mexico (ranked No. 26) and Puerto Rico (No. 108).

It plays Mexico next on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. Mexico crushed Puerto Rico 6-0 earlier Wednesday.

The top two nations per group will advance to the tournament semifinals, and the Feb. 19 semifinal winners advance to the Rio Games in August.

The U.S. is heavily favored to qualify for Rio, where it would go for its fourth straight Olympic title. The next-best North American team is ranked No. 11 (Canada, which is in the opposite CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament group).

If the U.S. and Canada win their respective groups, they would not have to play each other to qualify for the Olympics.

The U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying includes 13 of the 23 players from the World Cup, led by Olympic champions Morgan, Lloyd and Hope Solo, who blanked Costa Rica on Wednesday.

All 15 matches of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

MORE: No Olympics for Messi, but another Argentine star striker possible

2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule

Frisco, Texas – Toyota Stadium
Houston, Texas – BBVA Compass Stadium
Times U.S. Central (U.S. Eastern in parentheses)

FIRST ROUND
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Group B: Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (Frisco)
Mexico 6, Puerto Rico 0                                 5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA 5, Costa Rica 0                                    7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 11 (Houston)
Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago                  5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guyana                                           7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Frisco)
Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico                              12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
USA vs. Mexico                                                 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Houston)
Guyana vs. Guatemala                                     12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
Trinidad vs. Canada                                          3 p.m. (4 p.m.)

Monday, Feb. 15 (Frisco)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica                                       5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Puerto Rico                                          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) LIVE on NBCSN

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Houston)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana                         5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guatemala                                      7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

SEMIFINALS

Friday, Feb. 19 (Houston)
Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up          4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) ***
Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) ***

FINAL

Sunday, Feb. 21 (Houston)
Semifinal winners                                            4 p.m. (5 p.m.) NBCSN at 11 p.m.

***USA’s semifinal, should the USA advance, will air LIVE on NBCSN