Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte wins 2 golds on 3-swim night; Missy Franklin just misses medal at world swimming championships Friday

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Ryan Lochte took on a task Michael Phelps never attempted and completed it spectacularly at the world swimming championships in Barcelona on Friday night.

Lochte swam three events — the 200-meter backstroke final, the 100 butterfly semifinals and the 4×200 freestyle relay final — and finished first in every race. Neither Lochte nor Phelps had ever attempted a triple at a major international meet before.

Lochte, who turns 29 on Saturday, upped his medal count this week to three golds and one silver. He has two finals left, the 100 butterfly Saturday and the medley relay Sunday, to win five golds at worlds for the second straight time. Lochte ranks second all time in world golds (15 to Phelps’ 26) and total medals (23 to Phelps’ 33).

Missy Franklin, aiming to become the first woman to win six golds and seven medals at a single world championships, took fourth in the 100 free final. Her shot at seven medals is now over. She was not expected to win the event but was considered a medal contender. Franklin, 18, also qualified first into Saturday’s final in the 200 backstroke, where she is a heavy favorite.

Franklin will also be part of the women’s medley relay. She has four golds now and has a great chance at six total golds. Kristin Otto of Germany and Tracy Caulkins and Shirley Babashoff of the U.S. have also won six medals (but not all gold) at a single worlds.

Below are full results, analysis, quotes and video highlights from Friday’s action at Palau Sant Jordi.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final

Gold: Cate Campbell (AUS) 52.34

Silver: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.89
Bronze: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.42
4. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.47
5. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.67
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.75
7. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.27
8. Shannon Vreeland (54.49)

Franklin would have won bronze if she repeated her preliminary time, which was a personal best. Still, she was smiling after the race. Franklin won’t win seven medals, but she still is likely to win six golds, which no woman has done at a world championships. Australia wins both the 100 freestyle world titles at the same world championships for the first time. Campbell was .61 seconds under world-record pace at the 50-meter mark. She finished behind the world mark of 52.07. Sjostrom adds silver to her 100 butterfly gold. Kromowidjojo was the 2012 Olympic champion.

“I’m very, very happy with that race,” Franklin said. “I have so much to improve on in that race.”

Men’s 200 Backstroke Final

Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:53.79
Silver: Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:54.24
Bronze: Tyler Clary (USA) 1:54.64
4. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:55.07
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:55.43
6. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:55.67
7. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:57.13
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:58.26

Lochte had a slight lead at the 50, opened it up to a half-second at the 100 and the 150 and held on for his second straight world title in the 200 back and his second straight gold in Barcelona. Kawecki was a surprise medalist, snatching silver with a European record. Clary is the Olympic champion and was the top seed going into the final. The U.S. has won this event at every worlds and Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“My first reaction getting into the wall was frustration,” Clary told Universal Sports. “It’s going to be fun trying to get back up on the podium the next three years.”

Women’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:06.46
2. Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:07.15
3. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:08.20
4. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:08.49
5. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:08.74
6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.97
7. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:09.08
8. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:09.84

Franklin showed how dominant she is in her signature event by qualifying more than a half-second faster than anyone else 20 minutes after getting out of the pool from the 100 free final. She’s the world champion, Olympic champion, world record holder and heavy, heavy favorite for gold No. 5 on Saturday. Pelton, who had a pair of third-place finishes at last year’s Olympic trials, looks to be in the mix for silver and bronze with Caldwell and Hocking, the 2011 world silver medalist.

“I will (relax),” said Franklin, who gets her first session off Saturday morning. “I’m going to get Starbucks.”

Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.37
2. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.42
3. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.60
3. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.60
5. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 21.62
6. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.63
7. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 21.67
8. George Bovell (TRI) 21.74

Manaudou, the Olympic champion, also had the fastest prelim time. He’s the favorite for gold Saturday. Ervin, though, was spectacular in his semifinal and could also win gold after coming .02 shy of Cullen Jones‘ American record. Ervin was the co-gold medalist in the splash and dash at the 2000 Olympics. Cielo is the two-time defending world champion and world record holder. Adrian, too, is in the medal picture, though he has never medaled in this event at a worlds or Olympics. Adrian’s rival, James Magnussen, missed the final.

“My goal this summer was to get that bottom half of 21, 21.59 or better was my goal,” Ervin said. “Just with that swim alone, I feel really good the next couple years to Rio, the possibility of Rio.”

“Each hundredth is just so much emotional energy,” Adrian said. “If you want to win at this point, you’ve got to nail your start, breakout and your finish. That right there is the entire race.”

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Final

Gold: Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.41

Silver: Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 2:20.08
Bronze: Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:22.37
4. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:22.96
5. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:23.01
6. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:23.55
7. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.01
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:25.21

Efimova passed Pedersen on the final 50 meters. Pedersen had broken Rebecca Soni‘s world record in the semifinals — clocking a 2:19.11. Efimova adds a gold to her Olympic silver and bronze from the 2011 worlds. Lawrence wins her first world or Olympic medal.

Men’s 100 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.48
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.52
3. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 51.55
4. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.60
5. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.61
6. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 51.64
7. Steffen Deibler (GER) 51.65
8. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 51.78

Lochte swam a personal best to vault into the medal picture Saturday. Le Clos is the Olympic and world champion in the 200 butterfly and probably still the favorite for gold. Watch out for Deibler, who is the fastest in the world this year.

Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.50
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 25.68
3. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.90
4. Melanie Henique (FRA) 25.95
5. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.06
6. Inge Dekker (NED) 26.11
7. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.12
7. Ying Lu (CHN) 26.12

Vollmer, the Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 fly, is healthy again after suffering through illness to a bronze in the 100 fly a few days ago. Ottesen Gray and Halsall are probably the favorites as the fastest women in the world this year. Dekker is the defending world champion. And how about Egypt getting a swimmer in a final?

“(I feel) so much better,” said Vollmer, who had three days off between events. “It just feels like everything kind of cleared up. My energy’s back.”

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final

Gold: Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:07.23

Silver: Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.54
Bronze: Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:08.95
4. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.13
5. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.14
6. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (UKR) 2:09.34
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:09.57
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.28

Gyurta, seventh at 100 meters, took the lead between 100 and 150 and cruised home to become the sixth man to win three straight world titles in the same event. He went faster than his world record at the 2012 Olympics (a record since broken by the Japanese Yamaguchi). Mattsson became Finland’s first world medalist since 1994. Jamieson, the Olympic silver medalist, disappointed in fifth after coming in with the fastest time in the world this year.

Men’s 4×200 Free Relay

Gold: United States 7:01.72

Silver: Russia 7:03.92
Bronze: China 7:04.74
4. France 7:04.91
5. Japan 7:04.95
6. Germany 7:10.07
7. Belgium 7:11.15
8. Great Britain 7:12.00

The U.S. used three of its four swimmers from the 2012 Olympic final — Lochte, Ricky Berens and Conor DwyerCharlie Houchin, who swam in the prelims in London, replaced Michael Phelps.The Americans were a solid but not overwhelming favorite.

Russia (Danila Izotov) led France (Yannick Agnel) by three tenths and the U.S. (Dwyer) by six tenths after the first leg, each nation using its medalist from the individual 200 free on leadoff. Lochte propelled the U.S. into the lead on his last turn of the second leg. Houchin and Berens extended the edge over Russia to a full body length to win easily.

The U.S. won its fifth straight world title in the event. Lochte finished a perfect night, two golds and qualifying first in the 100 butterfly. He now has three golds, one silver and a fourth with two finals left.

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Bobsled Olympic medalist Steve Langton retires

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 03:  (BROADCAST-OUT)  Steve Langton of the United States Bobsled team poses for a portrait ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 3, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.

A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.

At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”

“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.

Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.

“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”

Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.

None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.


Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

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Dan Jansen has significant experience rewriting the speed skating world record book.

The 1994 Olympic 1000m champion broke the 500m world record in 1992, and then lowered his mark another four times. He also set world records in the 1000m and sprint combination.

Yet even Jansen is shocked by the number of edits to the record book over the last two weeks.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” Jansen said. “Not this many.”

Four world records were broken this past weekend at the World Cup in Kearns, Utah. The weekend before, world records in three Olympic events fell at the season-opening World Cup in Calgary.

There is no surprise about the locations of the record-breaking performances.

The Utah Olympic Oval claims to have the “fastest ice on earth,” and for good reason. The venue is located 4,675 feet above sea level. At such a high altitude, the air is less dense, meaning speed skaters experience less air resistance and are therefore able to achieve faster speeds.

It is the same reason baseball players hit more home runs at the Colorado Rockies’ stadium, Coors Field, and football kickers are able to make longer field goals when they travel to play the Denver Broncos.

The Calgary Olympic Oval is also at a high altitude, although not as high as at the venue in Kearns. All of the current Olympic event world records have been set in either Utah or Calgary.

What is surprising, however, is the large number of world records broken during a two-week stretch.

Brittany Bowe started the revision of the record book by breaking her own women’s 1000m world record on Nov. 14 in Calgary. Just three minutes later, her U.S. Olympic teammate, Heather Richardson, claimed the world record for herself. Then, this past Sunday in Utah, Bowe broke the world record once again. NBCSN will televise the coverage from Utah this Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET, with Jansen providing the commentary.

Richardson also stole a world record from Bowe in the women’s 1500m. Bowe broke the world record on Nov. 15, only to have Richardson lower the time on Nov. 21.

“It’s pretty easy to tell that we bring out the best in each other,” Bowe said to U.S. Speedskating on Sunday. “When we’re racing together something special happens almost every time.”

In the men’s competition, Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov broke the 500m world record  on Nov. 15, and lowered it again on Nov. 20. Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen shattered the men’s 10,000m world record, taking 5.39 seconds off Sven Kramer’s mark from 2007.

Jansen attributes the women’s world records to the continued development of Bowe and Richardson. Both are converted inline skaters who have become more confident racing on the ice.

Bowe started inline skating when she was eight years old. After graduating from high school, she was offered the opportunity to move to Utah to transition to speed skating for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. But she decided hang up her inline skates to focus on playing collegiate basketball at Florida Atlantic University.

She only started speed skating after being inspired by watching Richardson compete at the 2010 Games.

“Brittany learns more almost daily,” Jansen said. “She is still going to get better.”

Richardson quickly adjusted to racing on the ice, despite being described as “Bambi on ice” when she first started speed skating in 2007. She married Dutch distance skater Jorrit Bergsma in 2015 and moved to the Netherlands. Richardson’s endurance has improved since she started training with her husband, the 2014 Olympic 10,000m champion.

“Those two ladies are dominant right now,” Jansen said about Bowe and Richardson. “It is hard to see anybody else closing the gap they have in the middle distances.”

Jansen, the first speed skater to break 36 seconds in the 500m, seemed surprised that it took so long for the men’s 500m and 10,000m world records to fall. Canada’s Jeremy Wotherspoon held the men’s 500m world record since Nov. of 2007. Kramer’s 10,000m time, which was recorded in Feb. of 2007, was the longest-standing Olympic event world record.

“It’s about time,” Jansen said. “These guys are flying right now.”

No more world records are expected to be broken this season, as the rest of the competition venues are located closer to sea level. Similarly, no world records are expected to be broken at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer because you would like to see world records at the Olympics, but our sport is not conducive to that,” Jansen said. “Unless you have the Olympics up high.”

Jansen believes U.S. Speedskating will continue to experience positive momentum.

At Sochi 2014, losing became contagious, and the U.S. contingent departed Russia with zero Olympic medals. Jansen now expects the recent success to reverberate throughout the entire team.

“It’s an exciting time for U.S. Speedskating,” Jansen said. “They are making statements, and I don’t think they are finished.”