Missy Franklin

Franklin wins gold, Ledecky smashes world record, Lochte misses podium at world swimming championships

2 Comments

The U.S. swim team collected six medals at the world championships Tuesday, including titles from Missy FranklinKatie Ledecky in world-record time and Matt Grevers, but Ryan Lochte was not part of the haul.

Franklin, the four-time 2012 Olympic champion, looked smooth handling two swims in Barcelona. She won the 100-meter backstroke, as expected, for her second gold in her second event at worlds. She’s expected to swim eight total, including the 200 freestyle, where she placed second in the semifinals to qualify easily for Wednesday’s final.

Ledecky, 16, won her second gold as well en route to what could be a four-gold week in Barcelona. She erased the oldest swimming world record, Kate Ziegler‘s 1,500-meter mark from 2007, by six seconds in one of the most impressive swims in world championships history. She adds the 1,500 title to a 400 title from Sunday. The 800, where she won the Olympic title, and the 4×200 free relay are still to come.

Grevers and David Plummer gave the U.S. a gold-silver finish in the 100 backstroke. Grevers had won the Olympic title in the event in London, while Plummer didn’t even make the Olympic team in 2012.

All of those medals came after Lochte finished fourth in the 200 freestyle to start the night. Lochte, the 2011 world champion in the event, was pushed off the podium by U.S. teammate Conor Dwyer, who came back from fifth in the final 50 to nab silver behind Olympic champion Yannick Agnel. Lochte, who won silver as part of the 4×100 free relay Sunday, has a planned five more events to go.

Jessica Hardy won the final U.S. medal of the night, bronze in the 100 breaststroke. That event was won by super favorite and Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania, who broke Hardy’s world record in Monday’s semifinals.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and videos of Tuesday’s events.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results
Photos: Swimming on world newspaper front pages Tuesday

Men’s 200 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Yannick Agnel (FRA) 1:44.20

Silver: Conor Dwyer (USA) 1:45.32
Bronze: Danila Izotov (RUS) 1:45.59
4. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:45.64
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:45.94
6. Robbie Renwick (GBR) 1:46.52
7. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 1:46.63
8. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 1:47.11

Summary
Agnel, the Olympic champion, led at 50.64 after 100 with Lochte in third. Agnel was up by nearly 1.5 seconds at 150 with Izotov and Lochte in line for second and third. But Dwyer came from behind to surprisingly keep Lochte, the defending world champ, from medaling. Agnel is coached by Michael Phelps‘ former coach, Bob Bowman. Dwyer, 24, wins the first individual major international medal of his career. Lochte, who wore lime green sneakers in his walk out to the deck, is scheduled for five more events in Barcelona. He swims in the 200 individual medley prelims Wednesday morning and semifinals Wednesday evening.

“I just tried to hit my last turn,” Dwyer told Universal Sports. “Michael (Phelps?) was texting me yesterday, ‘Stop taking it out like a little girl.”

Women’s 100 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 58.42

Silver: Emily Seebohm (AUS) 59.06
Bronze: Aya Terakawa (JPN) 59.23
4. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 59.45
5. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 59.61
6. Simona Baumrtova (CZE) 59.84
7. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 1:00.16
8. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 1:00.29

Summary
Franklin,  missed the world record by three tenths of a second with the fastest time in the world this year. There was little doubt she would win this event coming in. She’s now two for two in golds with the 200 freestyle semifinals coming in an hour. She has a Phelps-like eight events planned at this meet. The silver and bronze medalists were the same as in London.

Men’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 26.81
2. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 26.83
3. Joao Gomes (BRA) 27.05
4. Christian Sprenger (AUS) 27.10
5. Johannes Skagius (SWE) 27.16
6. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 27.22
7. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 27.42
8. Giulio Zorzi (RSA) 27.44

Summary
Van der Burgh came close to his world record set during the suit era of 26.67. He’s the Olympic champion in the 100 breast, silver medalist in the 100 breast Monday and the 2011 world bronze medalist in the 50. Consider him the favorite for gold Wednesday. Dugonjic won the first semi after qualifying 11th out of prelims. Sprenger, the 100 breast world champion, is also a medal contender. The 100 breast bronze medalist and second qualifier out of prelims, Felipe Lima of Brazil, failed to make the final.

Women’s 1,500 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:36.53 WR
Silver: Lotte Friis (DEN) 15:38.88
Bronze: Lauren Boyle (NZL)
15:44.71
4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 15:58.83
5. Xu Danlu (CHN) 16:00.44
6. Kristel Kobrich Schimpl (CHI) 16:01.94
7. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 16:06.89
8. Chloe Sutton (USA) 16:09.65

Summary
Ledecky, 16, takes the oldest world record (Kate Ziegler, 2007) off the books by more than six seconds after a memorable duel with Friis, the 2011 world champion. Ledecky is now two for two in golds with a great chance of going four for four in golds with the 800 free and 4×200 free relay left, assuming she’s part of that relay.

Men’s 100 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Matt Grevers (USA) 52.93
Silver: David Plummer (USA) 53.12
Bronze: Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 53.21
4. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 53.29
5. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 53.51
6. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 53.55
7. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 53.93
8. Gareth Kean (NZL) 54.25

Summary
Stravius had a .03 lead on the Olympic champion Grevers at the 100-meter turn. Plummer, third at the Olympic trials and the 2013 U.S. champion, came back from outside the top three at the turn for silver. Grevers joins Jeff RouseLenny Krayzelburg and Aaron Peirsol as American men to win Olympic and world titles in the 100 back. Stravius and Lacourt were the co-2011 world champions.

Women’s 200 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.78
2. Missy Franklin (USA) 1:56.05
3. Melanie Costa (ESP) 1:56.19
4. Camille Muffatt (FRA) 1:56.28
5. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 1:56.38
6. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 1:56.53
7. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA) 1:56.63
8. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:56.76

Summary
Great swim by Franklin a little over an hour after 100 backstroke final to easily qualify into a deep 200 free final. Pellegrini is the two-time defending world champion and world-record holder. Franklin should be considered the favorite Wednesday, even though Muffat, the Olympic silver medalist, still owns the fastest time of 2013. Vreeland swam a personal best by a second to knock Katinka Hosszu, the 200 individual medley champion, out of the final.

“There’s still so much room for improvement,” Franklin said of her freestyle stroke to Universal Sports.

Men’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Chad le Clos (RSA) 1:55.33
2. Wu Peng (CHN) 1:55.42
3. Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 1:55.67
4. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.97
4. Chen Yin (CHN) 1:55.97
6. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 1:56.02
7. Leonardo De Deus (BRA) 1:56.06
8. Tom Luchsinger (USA) 1:56.10

Summary
The retired Michael Phelps won every world title in this event since 2005 (when he didn’t swim it at worlds). The new era was ushered in at the Olympics with le Clos winning gold, and he goes into the final as the favorite even though Korzeniowski still owns the fastest time in the world this year. Korzeniowski was the 2005 world champion. Clary owns four overall Olympic and world medals, but none in the butterfly. The final could be unpredictable given the entire field is within eight tenths of a second of each other.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 1:04.42

Silver: Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 1:05.02
Bronze: Jessica Hardy (USA) 1:05.52
4. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 1:05.93
5. Breeja Larson (USA) 1:06.74
6. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 1:06.81
7. Marina Garcia (ESP) 1:07.08
8. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 1:07.41

Summary
No world record this time for the Lithuanian 16-year-old, who broke Hardy’s world mark in the semifinals Tuesday. She adds the world title to her Olympic gold in 2012. Efimova, fourth at 2011 worlds, was expected to win silver and followed through. Hardy wins her first individual medal in this event since a 2005 silver.

Photos: Swimmers make global newspaper front pages Tuesday

Ashley Wagner handed Puffs box in emotional press conference (video)

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — Ashley Wagner was on the verge of tears (of joy) after taking silver at the U.S. Championships. A U.S. Figure Skating official came to her aid during a press conference, passing a box of Puffs onto the table.

A reporter told Wagner, 25, that it’s believed she’s the oldest U.S. women’s podium finisher since at least World War II. Wagner, not much of a fan of age remarks, smiled.

“Oh my god, you had to mention a World War,” she said. “I’m getting emotional, just because this is so hard, what I do, and I am so proud that I am still here today because I was 15 or 16 at my first world championships [16, in 2008], and I’m here, and I’m 25, it’s almost 10 years later. That’s something that you just don’t see in this sport. I’m here because I love it, and I am so stubborn.”

At that point, the green box of Puffs, one of U.S. Figure Skating’s sponsors, appeared to Wagner’s right.

“My passion is what fuels me,” she continued, “and I’m really proud of myself. I hope one day people will look back. I’m always here because I work to be here, and that’s something that I’m really proud of.”

MORE: Gracie Gold comments after sixth-place finish

Karen Chen holds off Ashley Wagner for shocking U.S. title

1 Comment

KANSAS CITY — Karen Chen was as surprised as anyone that she won the U.S. title.

“I’m just in complete shock,” said Chen, who was eighth last year. “It was hard for me to believe that this day would come.”

Chen, 17, overcame nearly two seasons’ worth of struggles to win her first national championship Saturday night. She posted the highest short-program and free-skate scores and topped a field that included three Olympians.

Most notably Ashley Wagner, who finished second, 2.44 points behind. Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion and 2016 World silver medalist, just missed becoming the oldest women’s gold medalist in 90 years.

Wagner didn’t seem to mind her first U.S. silver medal, though, because she’s surely going to be on the three-woman world championships team named Sunday.

“This is perfect for me,” said Wagner, who came into the week as the clear favorite. “It gives me the opportunity to go in [to the world championships] with my head down and keep on working. I know where I lost my points. … I’m not planning on peaking here.”

Mariah Bell, who shares a coach with Wagner, jumped from sixth after the short program to finish third and likely lock down the last worlds spot. Full results are here.

Gracie Gold, who finished fourth at the Olympics and the last two worlds, tumbled to sixth place and is likely to miss worlds for the first time in her five-year senior career. Gold reflected on her disastrous season afterward.

It was also a heartbreaking day for 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, who fell from second after the short program to finish fourth, 3.02 behind Bell.

Nagasu had four of her jumps called under-rotated in her free skate. Nagasu was heartbreakingly left off the 2014 Olympic team. It looks like she finished one spot shy of making the worlds team, which is chosen by a committee.

“I am speechless,” Nagasu said. “I knew I was ready, and I just didn’t deliver tonight. … This isn’t the way I wanted it to go, but I think that people are defined by how they react to things.”

Like Chen. The Fremont, Calif., native burst onto the scene two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold at age 15.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little had been heard about Chen since (though plenty has been from U.S. men’s leader Nathan Chen, also 17 years old but unrelated).

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

But Chen felt plenty comfortable Thursday, performing a rare clean program for the lead.

“I skated the short of my dreams,” Chen said. “I wanted to follow it up with a close to perfect long.”

It was pretty darn close. Chen landed all of her jumps clean, including seven triples.

“This moment was something that I really dreamed about,” Chen said. “It was far from reality.”

Wagner will likely be leading a world championships team with two rookies in Chen and Bell.

It’s the most pressure-packed worlds of the four-year cycle, because the skaters’ placements determine how many Olympic spots each nation receives.

To ensure the maximum three spots at the Olympics, the top two U.S. finishers at worlds must add up to no more than 13 (sixth and seventh, for example).

Japan and Russia will send three skaters each with the talent to finish in the top five. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond is also a medal threat. Wagner, sitting next to Chen and Bell, stressed that they should “tune out the noise” going into the biggest competition of their careers.

“It is so easy to be devoured by you guys because you all have eaten me alive before,” Wagner, who made her worlds debut in 2008, told the media. “Karen just has to deliver what she did here, Mariah has to do the same thing, and we’ll be set.”

Earlier Saturday, Maia and Alex Shibutani were beaten in the free dance but held on to repeat as U.S. championsHaven Denney and Brandon Frazier were the best of a flawed pairs field to earn their first U.S. title.

The U.S. Championships conclude Sunday with the men’s free skate (4 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app). Nathan Chen, 17, is in position to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion in 51 years.

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

VIDEO: Tara Lipinski reflects on winning 1997 U.S. title at age 14