2013 USA Swimming Phillips 66 National Championships and World Trials - Day 5

Five things we learned from USA Swimming nationals

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The first U.S. swimming nationals in the post-Michael Phelps era are in the books. The IUPUI Natatorium housed champion performances from USA Swimming’s two headliners (Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin) and potential breakouts (Kevin Cordes, Maya DiRado among them). As the world championships approach, starting July 28 at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi, let’s look at the lasting storylines from Indianapolis.

USA Swimming world championship roster (PDF) | Full nationals results (PDF)

1. Ryan Lochte sets up for his busiest international meet ever. The 11-time Olympic medalist entered 11 events before Tuesday’s start, but he was never going to swim that kind of marathon schedule over five days. He scratched down to a handful (notably cutting the 400-meter individual medley).

Lochte didn’t set any records but fared well after busy post-Olympic dryland activities. He won the 200 freestyle, 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley and placed second in the 100 butterfly, an event he’s now expected to swim for the first time at a major international meet. He took fourth in the 100 free to qualify for all three relays at worlds.

Lochte will swim seven events in Barcelona if he enters everything he’s qualified for. He has never swum more than six events at an Olympics or world championships. The problem lies on August 2, when he’s slated for a triple in the evening session — the 200 back final, 100 butterfly semis and 4×200 free relay final.

2. Missy Franklin goes five for five. Franklin, 18, was the swimmer of the meet. She won four of her five events and placed second in the outlier, qualifying for worlds in every one. She set a nationals record in the 100 free and U.S. Open and nationals records in the 100 back and 200 back. The future Cal collegian also won the 200 free and was runner-up in the 50 back, which sets up a potential but unlikely eight-medal attempt at worlds.

It’s probably not going to happen because Franklin would have to swim three events on August 1 — the 50 back final, 100 free semis and the 4×200 free relay final. She’ll likely opt out of the 50 back and go with the same seven-event schedule she had at the 2012 Olympics, where she medaled in five of seven races.

3. Natalie Coughlin’s sprint switch a success. The most decorated active Olympian qualified for her sixth world championships by winning the 50 free. She also placed fifth in the 100 free to make that relay team in Barcelona. The results cemented Coughlin’s decision to focus on the sprint freestyles and drop her patented backstroke.

At 30, Coughlin is no longer seeking Lochte- or Franklin-like schedules (she won five medals in 2005 and in 2007), but she’s in position to add to her female record of 18 worlds medals in the 4×100 free relay. The 50 free will be tougher; she’s ranked ninth in the world this year.

4. Katie Ledecky and Connor Jaeger complete distance triples. Ledecky, 16, and Jaeger, 22, swept the 400, 800 and 1,500 free events. As impressive as that is, several have medaled at worlds in all three distance swims — but never an American since the non-Olympic men’s 800 and women’s 1,500 were added to the worlds program in 2001.

Both Ledecky and Jaeger showed improvement over last year’s Olympic trials, where they each qualified for one Olympic event. Ledecky, the 2012 Olympic 800 champ, set a nationals record in winning the 1,500 by 20 seconds. She bettered her 2012 efforts in the 400 free (from third to first) and the 200 free (ninth to second).

Jaeger was second in the 1,500 at the Olympic trials and sixth in London before winning in Indy. He also improved on a sixth-place finish in the trials 400 by touching first this past week. Can Ledecky and Jaeger medal in the 400, 800 and 1,500 at worlds? It’s certainly possible. Ledecky is ranked in the top three in the world in all three. Jaeger is ranked no lower than fifth.

5. Kevin Cordes leads worlds rookies. The year after an Olympics always produces new faces to track for the next three years, and this past week was no different. Stanford’s Maya DiRado (200 fly, 400 IM, 4×200 free relay) and open-water swimmer Becca Mann, 15, were among them.

Rising University of Arizona junior Kevin Cordes made the greatest impression, sweeping the 100 and 200 breaststrokes and placing second in the 50 breast. No U.S. man has won a world breaststroke title since Brendan Hansen in 2007, but Cordes, 19, will more likely than not end that drought. He’s ranked third in the world in the 100 and second in the 200.

Panda Express helps boy realize Make A Wish to meet Michael Phelps

Race against Usain Bolt’s world record with ‘BeatBot’ (video)

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Puma has introduced the “BeatBot,” a self-driving, line-following robot that runners can program to move at a specific pace around a track.

That means one could race against a robot-version of Usain Bolt‘s 100m world record of 9.58 seconds, with BeatBot’s top speed at just over 27 miles per hour.

The BeatBot can also navigate track curves, as shown in the video above.

Puma plans to roll out BeatBot to various track programs around the world over the year.

MORE: Bolt, Ashton Eaton set for showdown

How to watch Penn Relays, Drake Relays on NBC Sports

Justin Gatlin
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Several U.S. Olympic champions highlight the Penn Relays and Drake Relays fields, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday.

At the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, the U.S. 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m pools include:

Justin Gatlin: 2004 Olympic 100m champ
Tyson Gay: Olympic 100m, fourth place
Carmelita Jeter: Olympic 100m silver medalist
Jeremy Wariner: 2004 Olympic 400m champ
Sanya Richards-Ross: Olympic 400m champ

Also competing will be two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Kerron Stewart and 2015 World 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson for Team Jamaica.

STREAM: Penn Relays: 12:30-3 p.m. ET

Next is the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, including:

  • 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt versus 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James in the 400m
  • World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham in the high jump. Cunningham, 18, is the daughter of retired NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham.
  • 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson versus 2013 World champion Brianna Rollins in the 100m hurdles.

STREAM: Drake Relays: 3-5 p.m. ET

MORE: Full NBC Olympic trials broadcast schedule