Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky leads strong U.S. showing in first day of swimming worlds prelims

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The world swimming championships began in the pool Sunday morning with preliminary heats in the following events:

Women’s 100-meter butterfly
Men’s 400-meter freestyle
Women’s 200-meter individual medley
Men’s 50-meter butterfly
Women’s 400-meter freestyle
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke
Women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay
Men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay

The first night of semifinals and finals begins at noon Eastern time. NBC will have coverage from 2:30-4:30. Here are the events:

Women’s 100 butterfly semifinals
Men’s 400 freestyle final
Women’s 200 individual medley semifinals
Men’s 50 butterfly semifinals
Women’s 400 freestyle final
Men’s 100 breaststroke semifinals
Women’s 4×100 final
Men’s 4×100 final

Led by Katie Ledecky in the 400 free, the U.S. is the top seed in three of the four finals following Sunday morning’s prelims. The Americans also topped the field in both sets of 4×100 free relay heats. The only final Sunday evening that won’t feature an American top seed is the men’s 400 free, where Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang is a heavy favorite. We should get our first looks at Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin in the 4×100 free relays finals as well.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Results, start lists | Men’s preview | Women’s preview

Here’s a rundown of the results from Sunday morning’s preliminary session:

Women’s 100 butterfly

Advancing to semifinals
1. Dana Vollmer (USA) 57.22
2. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 57.28
3. Katerine Savard (CAN) 57.31
4. Alicia Coutts (AUS) 57.56
5. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 57.79
6. Noemie Ip-Ting Thomas (CAN) 58.11
7. Ilaria Bianchi (ITA) 58.22
8. Brittany Elmslie (AUS) 58.27
9. Jemma Lowe (GBR) 58.38
10. Claire Donahue (USA) 58.58
11. Ingvild Nicoline Snildal (NOR) 58.83
12. Lu Ying (CHN) 58.93
13. Tao Li (CHN) 58.94
14. Evelin Verraszto (HUN) 58.95
15. Daynara De Paula (BRA) 59.16
16. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 59.18

Summary
Vollmer, the Olympic and world champion and world-record holder at 55.28, posted the second fastest time in the world this year to the lead the qualifiers into Sunday evening’s semifinals. The eight-woman final is Monday evening. The world’s fastest time of 57.18 still belongs to Coutts, the fourth fastest qualifier. Coutts is the reigning world silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist. The reigning Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist, Lu of China, qualified 12th out of 16 swimmers into the semifinals. The medals should come down to those three, plus Sjostrom, Savard and Ottesen.

Men’s 400 freestyle

Advancing to final
1. Sun Yang (CHN) 3:44.67
2. Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 3:45.74
3. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 3:46.85
4. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 3:46.92
5. Devon Myles Brown (RSA) 3:47.17
6. Hao Yun (CHN) 3:47.49
7. Connor Jaeger (USA) 3:47.83
8. James Guy (GBR) 3:47.86

Summary
Sun is the only one of the medalists from 2011 worlds or the 2012 Olympics swimming in Barcelona. Reigning world champion Park Tae-Hwan of South Korea is taking the year off, world-record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany is out after dealing with illness this year and London bronze medalist Peter Vanderkaay is retired. That leaves Sun, the Olympic champion, who is attempting a 400-800-1500 triple at these championships. His time was well off his world lead of 3:42.96, but he’s a very clear favorite after going one second faster than anyone else in Sunday’s heats. The silver and bronze should be shared among Cochrane, the London silver medalist in the 1,500, Harrison, Hagino and the U.S. champion Jaeger. Of note, the second fastest swimmer in the world this year, Australia’s David McKeon, and U.S. runner-up Matt McLean failed to make the final.

Medal picks
Gold: Sun (CHN)
Silver: Cochrane (CAN)
Bronze: Harrison (AUS)

source: Getty ImagesWomen’s 200 individual medley

Advancing to semifinals
1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.45
2. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 2:10.20
3. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 2:11.12
4. Elizbeth Beisel (USA) 2:11.16
5. Caitlin Leverenz (USA) 2:11.54
6. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) 2:11.64
7. Alicia Coutts (AUS) 2:11.88
8. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:12.11
9. Kanako Watanabe (JPN) 2:12.28
10. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:12.31
10. Sophie Allen (GBR) 2:12.31
12. Miho Teramura (JPN) 2:12.91
13. Wenqing Zhang (CHN) 2:13.40
14. Viktorlia Andreeva (RUS) 2:13.61
15. Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson (CAN) 2:13.84
16. Beatriz Gomez Cortes (ESP) 2:13.98

Summary
You may remember Ye, 17, from the 2012 Olympics, where she swept the individual medleys and swam a faster final 50 in her 400 IM than Ryan Lochte did in his. Well, Ye was beaten in her preliminary heat by the Hungarian Hosszu, the budding all-around swimmer who set a world-leading time. All the major players are safely into Sunday evening’s semifinals (final is Monday evening), including Olympic and world silver medalist Coutts and both Americans.

Men’s 50 butterfly

Advancing to semifinals
1. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 23.02
2. Rafael Munoz Perez (ESP) 23.17
3. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 23.18
4. Andril Govorov (UKR) 23.19
5. Piero Codia (ITA) 23.21
6. Matt Grevers (USA) 23.29
7. Eugene Godsoe (USA) 23.31
8. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 23.32
9. Matt Targett (AUS) 23.36
10. Wu Peng (CHN) 23.43
11. Nicholas Santos (BRA) 23.45
11. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 23.45
13. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 23.49
14. Steffen Deibler (GER) 23.50
14. Benjamin Proud (GBR) 23.50
16. Mario Todorovic (CRO) 23.53

Summary
This is event is not part of the Olympic program. Schoeman, 33, the triple 2004 Olympic medalist, posted the world’s second fastest time this year to lead the qualifiers into Sunday evening’s semifinals. The world lead (23.00) is still held by Bousquet. This event is wide open going into the semis with the entire field within a half-second of each other — not surprising for a 50-meter race. Cielo is the defending world champion. Grevers and Godsoe aren’t among the 10 fastest in the world this year, but don’t count them out of making the final.

Women’s 400 freestyle

Advancing to final
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 4:03.05
2. Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 4:04.20
3. Jazmin Carlin (GBR) 4:04.85
4. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 4:04.96
5. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 4:05.01
6. Camille Muffat (FRA) 4:05.53
7. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 4:05.61
8. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 4:06.02

Summary
Ledecky, 16, the Olympic champion in the 800, sent a message by blistering the field by one second in Sunday morning’s heats. She could be on her way to the first of three individual gold medals with the 800 and 1,500 still to come. The only woman who could stop her is Muffat, the Olympic champion, who still holds the world lead this year (4:02.64). The other 2011 world and 2012 Olympic medalists — Federica PellegriniRebecca Adlington and Allison Schmitt — are not swimming the event in Barcelona. The only other woman to go sub-4:04 this year, Australian Bronte Barratt, did not advance out of the prelims. So it could be a two-woman race for gold between Ledecky and Muffat — if Muffat swims much faster than she did Sunday morning.

Medal picks
Gold: Ledecky (USA)
Silver: Muffat (FRA)
Bronze: Costa Schmid (ESP)

Men’s 100 breaststroke

Advancing to semifinals
1. Christian Sprenger (AUS) 59.53
2. Kirill Strelnikov (RUS) 59.80
3. Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) 59.88
3. Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) 59.88
5. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 59.92
6. Kevin Cordes (USA) 1:00.01
7. Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 1:00.02
8. Felipe Lima (BRA) 1:00.06
9. Ross Murdoch (GBR) 1:00.08
9. Hendrik Feldwehr (GER) 1:00.08
11. Nicolas Fink (USA) 1:00.18
12. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 1:00.20
13. Joao Junior Gomes (BRA) 1:00.24
14. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 1:00.32
15. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 1:00.36
16. Giedrius Titenis (LTU) 1:00.44

Summary
The Aussie Sprenger, silver medalist to van der Burgh at the Olympics, now owns the two fastest times in the world this year and is the only man to go under 59.75. World No. 2 and reigning world silver medalist Scozzoli as well as van der Burgh must also be considered major medal threats, should they make Monday’s final. Kitajima, 30, the greatest breaststroker of all time, showed a strong swim after missing the medals at the Olympics. Also watch Cordes, the rising University of Arizona junior, who is in good position to make the eight-man final.

Women’s 4×100 freestyle relay

Advancing to final
1. USA 3:36.22
2. Australia 3:36.46
3. Canada 3:38.03
4. Sweden 3:38.07
5. Russia 3:38.32
6. Netherlands 3:38.41
7. Germany 3:39.19
8. Japan 3:39.24

Summary
The U.S. and Australia were clear ahead of the eight qualifiers into Sunday evening’s final despite sitting their best freestylers (Missy Franklin and Shannon Vreeland for the U.S., Cate Campbell for Australia). Expect them to be added to the final quartets. Also expect the Netherlands to make a big move up in the final, given it sat Olympic 100-meter champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo out of the prelims. The medals should be split among those three nations, as they were at the Olympics, where it went Australia-Netherlands-U.S. This one could be close this evening coming down to the anchor leg.

Medal picks
Gold: U.S.
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Netherlands

Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay

Advancing to final
1. USA 3:11.69
2. Russia 3:12.43
3. Australia 3:13.04
4. France 3:14.01
5. Italy 3:14.13
6. Brazil 3:14.41
7. Germany 3:14.70
8. Japan 3:15.46

Summary
The most exciting event in swimming should provide more fireworks come Sunday evening. The top four nations are in the medal picture, and I could see any one of three of them winning gold. The Americans used Jimmy FeigenAnthony ErvinRicky Berens and Conor Dwyer to post the top prelim time. Olympic champion Nathan Adrian will surely be added for the final, and you’ve got to believe Ryan Lochte will be, too. Russia came into Barcelona with four of the top eight 100 freestylers in the world this year and only used two of them in the prelims. The reigning world champion Aussies will add world leader James Magnussen for the final. Olympic champion France might not have enough speed to beat all of the U.S., Russia and Australia, but it could sneak in for a medal.

Medal picks
Gold: Russia
Silver: U.S.
Bronze: Australia

FINA approves mixed-gender relays

Katie Ledecky’s win not the most impressive swim to open nationals

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Katie Ledecky won the 800m freestyle in a rout, but a swimmer with no Olympic experience had the most impressive victory on the opening night of USA Swimming Nationals on Tuesday.

Ledecky, the four-time Rio gold medalist, clocked 8:11.50 to win her trademark race by nearly nine seconds. That clinched her spot on the team for the world championships in Budapest in July.

“It’s important to get the job done here and get on to Budapest and do what I love, which is race at those big meets,” Ledecky said on NBCSN, adding later, “I didn’t rest too much for this [meet]. It’s hard to compare, but maybe compared to the other trials/selection meets, this might be the least tapered that I’ve been.”

Mallory Comerford was undoubtedly the star of the day at nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast.

The rising Louisville junior won the 100m freestyle in 52.81 seconds, the second-fastest time by an American in history and No. 3 time in the world this year.

Comerford, who was 12th at the Olympic Trials, relegated Olympic champion Simone Manuel to second place by .24 on Tuesday night. Lia NealKelsi WorrellOlivia Smoliga and Katie Ledecky rounded out the top six and should be part of the 4x100m free relay pool in Budapest.

Comerford continued to improve after a breakout NCAA season, when she tied Ledecky for the NCAA 200-yard freestyle title in the same Indy pool. Comerford and Ledecky will go head-to-head in the 200m free at nationals on Wednesday.

“I’ve been really trying to figure out long course [Olympic-size pools], and it’s finally nice for it to be clicking,” Comerford told media in Indianapolis.

SWIM NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Event Schedule/Results

The 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian won the men’s 100m freestyle by one hundredth over Caeleb Dressel, repeating their one-two finish from the Olympic Trials.

“I didn’t know where they were, and if I would have looked around, I probably would have lost it,” Adrian said. “Touch the wall, and then figure out what place you got.”

Adrian clocked 47.96 seconds, ranking fourth in the world this year. Adrian and Dressel are set to be joined on the 4x100m free relay squad by Townley HaasZach AppleMichael Chadwick and Blake Pieroni.

Ryan Held, who famously broke down in tears on the Rio Olympic 4x100m free medal stand, finished seventh, missing the world team.

In the 200m butterfly, Jack Conger upset top seed Chase Kalisz, winning in 1:54.47.

Conger, who was suspended four months in 2016 as part of the Rio gas-station incident, now ranks fourth in the world this year in an event formerly dominated by Michael Phelps.

Kalisz, the Olympic 400m individual medley silver medalist, didn’t even make the world team in the 200m butterfly. He was out-touched for second place by Pace Clark by .21.

The women’s 200m fly final went to form, with Olympian Hali Flickinger taking the win by 1.11 seconds in 2:07.60. Flickinger ranks 10th in the world.

The 200m fly final was missing Olympic butterfliers Cammile Adams (not racing at nationals) and Kelsi Worrell (racing at nationals, but not the 200m fly) and Trials third-place finisher Cassidy Bayer (eliminated in morning prelims).

Joining Flickinger on the world team is Dakota Luther, a 17-year-old rising high school senior. No high schoolers made the Rio Olympic swim team.

True Sweetser and Robert Finke made their first world team by going one-two in the 1500m free.

MORE: Missy Franklin: ‘What if I’m never as good as I was?’

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Sage Kotsenburg will not defend Olympic slopestyle title

Sage Kotsenburg
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Sage Kotsenburg, the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, will not defend his title in PyeongChang and is finished with contest riding.

Kotsenburg, 23, said he chose to devote the rest of his career to filming snowboarding movies rather than competing. It’s a common transition in the sport, but an unusual one for a reigning Olympic gold medalist.

“It had been on my mind since literally the day I won in Sochi,” said Kotsenburg, who last competed in early 2016. “I had my heart set on stopping competing after the Olympics, and then winning puts you in such a different mindset. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do anymore. I was on a high, so pumped on competing. I would get to the contests [after Sochi], and I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t have the edge to try this new trick anymore. All the time, I’m looking at [social media] posts from other people riding in Switzerland and Whistler [Canada] filming backcountry. I thought, I want to be there right now.

“I finally said to myself, I’ve got to do what makes me happy. Competing doesn’t make me happy right now.”

Kotsenburg said relief flooded over him after telling sponsors — including Oakley, Monster, GoPro and Stance socks — he would not ride in competition anymore. He wanted to know if they would stick with him during his filming career, but he understood if they felt otherwise.

“Each one of them said we’re happy to have you on board and keep it going,” he said. “After I told them, it was so much pressure off my chest. I knew I could just go snowboarding again.”

Growing up in Park City, Kotsenburg was fixated more on snowboarding movies than following contests. Though he’ll never forget watching the U.S. sweep the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic men’s halfpipe and then meeting Ross PowersDanny Kass and J.J. Thomas as an 8-year-old.

Kotsenburg was truly a surprise Olympic champion in 2014, taking gold after going into his first Winter Games with a goal to “make snowboarding look cool.” The Park City native later said President Obama told him, “Sage, this guy was like the favorite moment of the Games.”

“Looking back on it in 30 or 40 years, I’ll remember all the hard work and stress and craziness that went into it,” Kotsenburg said. “It was so worth it in the end. It’s something that’s made me who I am today. I think about it every day.”

Kotsenburg was at best inconsistent at the Winter X Games before and after his Sochi breakout — fifth in 2010, 10th in 2011, second in 2012, 13th in 2013, 15th in 2014, fifth in 2015 and 10th in 2016. Kotsenburg’s win at the last U.S. Olympic qualifier in January 2014 marked his first trip to the top of a slopestyle podium in about nine years.

In Sochi, Kotsenburg took gold by landing a cab double cork 1260 with a Kotsenburg-invented Holy Crail grab and a back 1620 Japan Air, trying the latter trick for the first time in his life (he hasn’t tried it since). The rider known as “Second-Run Sage” did it on his first run, scoring 93.5 points.

After the Olympics, Kotsenburg capitalized on his gold. He ate a bacon gold medal given to him by Conan O’Brien, listened to Obama call him “sick and chill” and took his gold medal out of a white sock on “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer.

“Being backstage on Letterman, I was tripping,” he said. “Craziest one was definitely going to the White House and meeting Obama was insane. He said he watched the Olympics, and I had the chillest and most relaxed interview he had ever seen.”

Kotsenburg said he still needs to get a proper box to store his medal. He joked he might rather buy a manikin and hang it around its neck along with some cool outerwear.

Before what would have been the last contest of his career, Kotsenburg essentially suffered a concussion at Fenway Park in training at a big air event in February 2016. Kotsenburg said the head injury was very minor and that it did not factor into his retirement decision.

Kotsenburg spent all last winter riding in Alaska, Wyoming, Lake Tahoe, Utah and Whistler for a Snowboarder Magazine film called “Pepper.”

He plans to ride more this winter for his own film project and possibly attend the Olympics in a non-competitive capacity. 

The top slopestyle snowboarders going into PyeongChang are Canadians Mark McMorrisMax Parrot and Tyler Nicholson, Norwegians Marcus Kleveland and Stale Sandbech and American Red Gerard.

Gerard, 16, has known Kotsenburg for several years and once wore the Sochi gold medal.

“I hope [Gerard] comes home with a medal, even gold,” Kotsenburg said. “He’s got such awesome style and really respects the background of snowboarding. He’s been filming, too, and really respects that type of snowboarding. Which I respect a lot.”

MORE: Kelly Clark hopes to add one more Olympic bib to historic wall