More than 15 members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic swim team are in Austin, Texas this week for the AT&T Winter National Championships.
Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin, who recently competed at the Minneapolis Grand Prix, headline the list of swimmers. Others include Allison Schmitt, Matt Grevers, Nathan Adrian, Jessica Hardy and Ricky Berens.
The Thursday-Saturday meet will be contested in a short-course yards format at the University of Texas, which means the times will differ from those at the Olympics – they’ll be lower than those long-course marks because yards are shorter than meters. Also, short-course times are typically faster because of the benefit of pushing off the walls.
So it’s no stretch to say that we’ll see some low times in Austin this week.
Many of the swimmers are using the meet as preparation for the Short-Course World Championships, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey Dec. 12-16. In Franklin’s case, the Nationals meet is a the prelude to her final high school season after the 17-year-old decided to swim for Regis Jesuit her senior season.
One swimmer we’re anxious to watch this weekend is Garrett Weber-Gale, who lives and trains in Austin. He famously won gold with the 4x100m freestyle relay team at the Beijing Olympics (read: Jason Lezak and the greatest relay swim in history) but at the 2012 Olympic Trials, Weber-Gale fell short of his goal to make the London team in the 50m and 100m freestyles and the 4x100m freestyle relay. The founder of AthleticFoodie.com, Weber-Gale recently said he’s focusing on the Short-Course Worlds for now but left the door open for what he’ll do the next three years leading up to the 2016 Olympics.
Watch prelims and finals live from Austin at USASwimming.com, and be sure to catch NBC’s coverage Sunday from 2-3 p.m. ET.
Simone Biles is one of 11 finalists for Time‘s Person of the Year.
Time‘s Person of the Year, named annually since 1927, has never been an individual athlete or team. Tennis player Billie Jean King was part of the “American Women” group named in 1975.
In 2015, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner was one of eight finalists.
The Person of the Year “is the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”
Biles, 19, is the only teenager finalist and is six years younger than the youngest-ever solo Person of the Year, Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Biles won four gold medals and one bronze in Rio, the largest collection for a female gymnast at one Olympics since 1988.
The Person of the Year will be announced on Wednesday morning on “Today.”
Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order:
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
The Flint Whistleblowers
VIDEO: Biles shows Stephen Colbert how to stick the landing
Tonga’s famous flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, said he wants to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier.
“I’m going to be taking my Olympic dream one step further,” Taufatofua said in an Olympic Channel video published Monday. “My goal is to let people see, if I can do it, they can do it. The goal is to hunt down that Olympic medal at the 2018 Olympics.”
Sure enough, Taufatofua already has an International Ski Federation bio page. The federation lists one other Tongan cross-country skier with a bio, Makeleta Stephan, who was last of 93 finishers in a 2015 World Championships event.
In 2014, Bruno Banani became the first Tongan to compete at a Winter Olympics, placing 32nd in men’s luge. He was later the subject of a documentary. Banani gained fame starting in early 2012, when the story of his name was widely publicized. Banani’s real name is Fuahea Semi, but he changed it to the name of his German clothing sponsor as a marketing ploy.
Taufatofua lost his opening Olympic taekwondo match by mercy rule in Rio, two weeks after his his shirtless, oiled-up appearance in the Opening Ceremony.
Judging by the Olympic Channel video, Taufatofua’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics look better for Tokyo 2020 than Pyeongchang 2018.
PHOTOS: Tongan flag bearer steals show at Opening Ceremony