Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Lochte, 16 other London Olympians swim for world titles

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Just when you thought swimmers were done for the year, think again.

Seventeen U.S. Olympians, including Ryan Lochte and Allison Schmitt, are in Istanbul, Turkey this week for the Short-Course World Championships, at which swimmers compete in a 25-meter pool instead of the Olympic-distance 50m pool.

Absent from the meet is Missy Franklin, whose school work as a high school senior kept her from traveling to the meet, and Michael Phelps, who retired after the London Olympics. Will he un-retire and make a run at the 2016 Games? Lochte thinks so.

Speaking of Lochte, he’s signed up for six events at the Wednesday-Sunday meet – 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke, 50m/100m butterfly and the 100m/200m IM. And he’ll probably be added to at least one of the relays. At the last Short-Course Worlds in 2010, Lochte hauled in seven medals – six gold and a silver. He could easily pull off a similar feat in Turkey.

Schmitt, who won five medals (three gold, one silver, one bronze) in London, will swim in three races at Worlds: 200m/400m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Other notable London Olympians are Jessica Hardy (50m/100m freestyle, 50m/100m breaststroke), Claire Donahue (50m/100m butterfly), Chloe Sutton (400m/800m freestyle), Conor Dwyer (100m/200m IM, 200m/400m freestyle), Anthony Ervin (50m freestyle) and Matt Grevers (100m freestyle, 50m/100m backstroke).

Another swimmer to watch is Becca Mann, who will contest the 400m IM and the 800m freestyle. Mann just turned 15 and came close to making the Olympic team, finishing fifth in two races and sixth in another at Olympic Trials (the top two in each event make the roster). This fall, Mann earned one gold, one silver and four bronze medals during the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup. She’s got potential to be one of America’s next big swim stars.

Action starts with Wednesday morning’s prelims and ends Sunday night. Universal Sports TV will have nightly broadcasts starting Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Ashley Wagner ‘sick’ of hearing about her age

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KANSAS CITY — Ashley Wagner can become the oldest U.S. women’s figure skating champion in 90 years, but it would not be wise to tell her that.

“I think that this sport focuses on age way too much,” the three-time U.S. champion Wagner, 25, said in a press conference after Thursday night’s short program at Sprint Center (recap, videos here). “I’m so sick of hearing about my age. I’m so sick of it guys. If anybody asks me one more question about my age, I’ll just stop talking. It’s ridiculous.”

Wagner placed third in the short program, 1.88 points behind leader Karen Chen, who is 17 years old. She’ll try to surpass Chen in the free skate Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Chen sat in Thursday’s press conference between Wagner and second-place Mirai Nagasu, a 23-year-old who won the U.S. title way back in 2008.

“They’re my role models,” Chen said. “I watched them skate for years and years.”

Wagner then interjected before the next question.

“You just made both of us feel so old,” Wagner said, drawing laughter.

Truth is, Wagner is often asked about her age, her experience, her highs and lows, and answers respectfully and with wisdom. She did again after competing Thursday night for the first time in nearly two months, under the pressure as U.S. Championships favorite.

“I choose to view the word ‘veteran’ as experienced, and experience is never a bad thing, because I’ve gone through the good experiences and the brutally terrible awful experiences,” said Wagner, who last season earned world championships silver, ending a 10-year U.S. women’s drought.

NBC Olympics analyst Tara Lipinski was surprised to learn Wagner wasn’t particularly interested in questions about her age.

“Age is definitely a factor,” Lipinski said Friday. “You can pretend it’s not, but it is. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t, but it was. It was talked about a lot. I was too young [winning the Olympics at age 15]. Whether it’s the opposite [age] range, age is a factor.”

Wagner competes in a sport where, in other top countries, crops of teens are replaced by the next crop of teens. At last month’s Japanese and Russian Championships, the oldest women’s podium finisher was 18 years old.

Wagner may be past the usual prime years for skaters, but Lipinski pointed out that being (very) young has its disadvantages.

“I felt that I didn’t have a lot to draw on,” said Lipinski, who at 14 became the youngest U.S. women’s champion in 1997. “I didn’t have a lot of outside perspectives. Skating was my life. So any small mistake took me so down, and it was very hard for me to put this sport in perspective.”

Wagner was asked if she worried she may have peaked with that 2016 World Championships silver medal.

“If I peaked,” she said, “I would have retired.”

If Wagner makes the PyeongChang Winter Games, she would become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928. Which would actually be an incredible accomplishment in a teen-dominated sport.

That sort of statistic was probably furthest from her mind in Thursday’s press conference.

“We definitely need a new crop of girls to come in,” Wagner said, cracking a smile, “because I will die one day.”

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating head says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016, file photo, Nathan Chen of the United States, competes in the men's short program at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating final in Marseille, southern France. The 17-year-old's revelatory performance at last month's Grand Prix final in France has made him American figure skating's bright new star. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
AP
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U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage continues Friday, live on NBCSN, Universal HD and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app, starting at 6 p.m. ET.

The short dance and men’s short programs are scheduled in Kansas City.

The NBC Sports All-Access page will provide live scoring and more all week.

Short dance
6-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

Men’s short program
8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

In dance, defending champions Maia and Alex Shibutani take on two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. They’re heavy favorites for the three world championships berths.

Nathan Chen leads the men’s field, seeking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966. He faces past champions Jason Brown and Max Aaron with two worlds berths at stake this weekend

The free dance will be Saturday and the men’s free skate Sunday, both on NBC and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang