Katie Ledecky

Lochte, Franklin, Ledecky seek more gold at swim worlds; Saturday preview

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There are two full days of competition left at the world swimming championships, but Saturday (NBC 1-3 p.m. ET) marks the final individual swims for Ryan LochteMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

They’ve won a combined 11 medals, 10 of them gold, this week in Barcelona. If they were one country, they would rank second in the medal table.

The U.S., by the way, is dominating the standings with 22 medals and 10 golds. The next closest are Australia with nine medals and China with four golds.

Lochte, with three golds and one silver, swims the 100-meter butterfly final at a world championships or Olympics for the first time in his career. He’s the top seed entering the final but no lock for gold. He will then swim the butterfly leg on Sunday’s medley relay to close his meet.

Franklin, with four golds, is the heavy favorite in the 200 backstroke final. She also has the medley relay left Sunday. If she wins both, she’ll be the first swimmer to win six golds at a single world championships and the fourth to win six medals of any color. East Germany’s Kristin Otto won six golds at the 1988 Olympics.

Ledecky, 16, with three golds, takes her final swim in her signature event, the 800 freestyle, where she could break her second world record of the meet. She would become the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining Germany’s Hannah Stockbauer, who did it 10 years ago at this same pool.

Scroll down for full fields, previews and medal picks for Saturday’s events:

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final (Vollmer)
Men’s 50 Freestyle Final (Adrian, Ervin)
Women’s 200 Backstroke Final (Franklin)
Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals
Men’s 100 Butterfly Final (Lochte)
Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals
Women’s 800 Freestyle Final (Ledecky)

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final

Field
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

Preview
Ottesen Gray pulled out of the 100 free, where she was the defending co-world champion. Here, she looks like the gold-medal favorite after posting the fastest time of 2013 in the semifinals. This is a non-Olympic event. Kromowidjojo, the Olympic champ in the 50 and 100 free, hasn’t been in peak form in Barcelona but is also a medal favorite, along with Halsall. Britain has yet to win a medal this week. Vollmer is the wild card. She took bronze in the 100 fly earlier this week but is now over an illness and could jump into the medals.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ottesen Gray
Silver: Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Halsall

Men’s 50 Freestyle Final

Field
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

Preview
Manaudou is the 2012 Olympic champion and gold-medal favorite. Cielo is the two-time defending world champion and was thought to be the silver-medal favorite before Ervin posted a personal best in the semifinals. Ervin, 32, won this event at the world championships 12 years ago. Adrian is much better in the 100 but is an outside medal threat.

Medal Picks
Gold: Manaudou
Silver: Cielo
Bronze: Ervin

Women’s 200 Backstroke Final

Field
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

Preview
Franklin won’t be touched in her signature event. She’s the reigning world champion, Olympic champion and world record holder. Only Pelton has been within a second of Franklin’s best time this year. The silver and bronze are up for grabs among Caldwell, Pelton and Hocking. But don’t lose sight of Hosszu, the 200 individual medley champion from this week.

Medal Picks
Gold: Franklin
Silver: Pelton
Bronze: Hocking

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Field
1. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.78 WR
2. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.99
3. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 30.07
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.46
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.55
6. Mariia Liver (UKR) 30.68
7. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.77
8. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.82
9. Fiona Doyle (IRL) 30.93
10. Alia Atkinson (JAM) 31.12
11. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 31.22
12. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 31.23
13. Rebecca Ejdervik (SWE) 31.39
14. Yuzhe He (CHN) 31.46
15. Samantha Marshall (AUS) 31.49
16. Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir (ISL) 31.50

Preview
Tough week for Hardy, who lost both of her breaststroke world records in Barcelona. Meilutyte took down the 100 breast mark, and now Efimova has the 50 record. Sunday’s final should be a real meeting of champions. Efimova won the 200 breast Friday. Meilutyte won the 100 breast Tuesday. Hardy is the defending world champion. They’ve all gone sub-30 this year, and they’re the only women to do so. Larson is probably the best of the rest.

Men’s 100 Butterfly Final

Field
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

Preview
Lochte looks to continue a U.S. gold-medal streak at this event at every worlds or Olympics since 2003. Michael Phelps won the last three world titles and last three Olympic titles. If Lochte wins (or medals), he’ll do something Phelps never did — win world titles in four different disciplines. No man or woman has ever done it, according to John Lohn of swimvortex.com. It could be close. Lochte has the top seed time, but le Clos, the 200 fly champ, and Czerniak are right there with him. Deibler has gone 51.19 this year.

Medal Picks
Gold: Lochte
Silver: Le Clos
Bronze: Korotyshkin

Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Field
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.27
2. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.60
3. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.65
4. Ranomi Kromomwidjojo (NED) 24.68
5. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.78
6. Chantal van Landeghem (CAN) 24.89
7. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.93
8. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.99
9. Natalie Coughlin (USA) 25.00
10. Victoria Poon (CAN) 25.01
10. Aleksandra Urbanczyk (POL) 25.01
12. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.04
13. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (BAH) 25.15
14. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 25.19
15. Hanna-Maria Seppala (FIN) 25.20
16. Pernille Blume (DEN) 25.23

Preview
Campbell returns a day after winning the 100 free in impressive fashion as the clear favorite to be the top seed going into this final as well. Her younger sister, Bronte, 19, and Halsall and Kromowidjojo are the most likely of anyone to challenge her, if that’s possible. Manuel and Coughlin, the most decorated world championships swimmer of all time, will have to fight to make the final.

Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Field
1. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.67
2. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.72
3. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.79
4. Gerhard Zandberg (RSA) 24.85
5. David Plummer (USA) 24.91
6. Bastiaan Lijesen (NED) 24.94
7. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.97
8. Guy Marcos Barnea (ISR) 25.01
8. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 25.01
10. Matt Grevers (USA) 25.08
11. Lavrans Solli (NOR) 25.15
12. Jonatan Josef Kopelev (ISR) 25.17
13. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 25.36
14. Pavel Sankovich (BLR) 25.40
15. Federico Grabrich (ARG) 25.44
16. Juan Miguel Rando Galvez (ESP) 25.52

Preview
Grevers won the 100 backstroke world title, but Plummer, the silver medalist in the 100 back, is stronger in this event. He owns the fastest time of 2013. Grevers is on the bubble of making Sunday’s final. The other top medal contenders are Stravius, Orzechowski and Lacourt.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:20.65
2. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:21.00
3. Lotte Friis (DEN) 8:23.00
4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 8:25.03
5. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 8:26.26
6. Martina De Memme (ITA) 8:26.95
7. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 8:27.03
8. Chloe Sutton (USA) 8:27.41

Preview
The world record could be in play here, given Ledecky already broke the mark in the 1,500 this week and was just a half-second off of it when she won gold in London. The woman with the fastest time of 2013, Britain’s Jazmin Carlin, didn’t make the final. So Friis and Boyle, silver and bronze medalists in the 1,500 free, will again be the closest to Ledecky. But they shouldn’t be all that close. Spain’s best overall swimmer, Belmonte Garcia, goes for her third medal of worlds.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ledecky
Silver: Boyle
Bronze: Friis

What Jason Lezak is doing in retirement

U.S. Olympic marathon trials men’s preview, contenders

Galen Rupp
AP
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The U.S. Olympic men’s marathon trials picture shook in the last month with the retirement of fastest-ever American marathoner Ryan Hall, the withdrawal of four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman and the addition of Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp.

What’s left is one man from the three-man 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon team — Meb Keflezighi — who turns 41 on May 5 and looks to become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time (an Olympic medalist in the women’s race is attempting the same feat).

Keflezighi, the defending trials champion, appears the safest pick to finish in the top three to make the Rio Olympic team, but several others, such as Rupp, could surprise in Los Angeles on Saturday (1-4 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra).

The top contenders:

Meb Keflezighi
Age: 40
PR: 2:08:37 (Boston 2014)
2014 Boston Marathon champion
2012 Olympics — fourth place
2009 New York City Marathon champion
2004 Olympics — silver medal
2000 Olympics — 12th place (10,000m)

In 2012, Keflezighi became the oldest U.S. Olympic marathon trials winner. This year, he can become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time.

Keflezighi’s only 26.2-mile hiccup in the last four years came in 2013, when he placed 23rd at the New York City Marathon (fifth among Americans). But Keflezighi silenced the doubters five months later in Boston, becoming the first American man to win the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race since 1983.

He followed that up with a fourth at the 2014 NYC Marathon (top American), eighth at the 2015 Boston Marathon (No. 2 American) and seventh at the 2015 NYC Marathon (top American).

Dathan Ritzenhein
Age: 33
PR: 2:07:47 (Chicago 2012)
2012 Olympics — 13th place (10,000m)
2008 Olympics — ninth place
2004 Olympics — DNF (10,000m)

Ritzenhein has the fastest personal best in the field and ranked No. 2 among all Americans for 2015 (2:11:20 in Boston). For all his talent, Ritzenhein endured health problems throughout his career. In November, hip bursitis reportedly slowed him for about one month.

He last raced Oct. 4 and last raced a marathon April 20 (his last marathon before that was Oct. 13, 2013).

At the 2012 trials, Ritzenhein was in the lead pack of four from miles two through 19 until he fell off the pace and watched Keflezighi, Hall and Abdirahman pull away to secure Olympic berths. Ritzenhein nearly caught Abdirahman at the end, making up 17 seconds in the last 1.2 miles but coming up eight seconds short in Houston.

“Maybe I’m not made for the marathon,” Ritzenhein said that day, hanging his head while answering reporters’ questions.

Ritzenhein later made the 2012 Olympic team in the 10,000m and, two months after the London Games, ran that 2:07:47 in Chicago to become the third-fastest U.S. marathoner of all time. That’s 50 seconds faster than any other U.S. man since 2011.

Galen Rupp
Age: 29
PR: None
2012 Olympics — silver medal (10,000m)
2012 Olympics — seventh place (5000m)
2008 Olympics — 13th place (10,000m)

Rupp makes his much-anticipated marathon debut. The only U.S. man or woman to qualify for the Olympic marathon at trials in his or her 26.2-mile debut was George Young in 1968, the first year trials were held.

The lack of experience (Rupp’s longest race was a half marathon, which he’s done once in the last four and a half years) makes him a bit of a wild card. But there’s no doubting his talent. Rupp, one of the world’s best at 10,000m, is coached by three-time NYC Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, and may prove the strongest runner in the field.

Rupp was a late qualifier for the trials by posting a half marathon qualifying time of 1:01:20 on Dec. 13 in Portland, Ore., against a field that included a man dressed as an elf and another in the bunny suit from “A Christmas Story.” That time ranked second among U.S. men for 13.1 miles last year.

Rupp’s fastest half marathon, 1:00:30 from 2011, ranks second in the field behind Ritzenhein.

If Rupp finishes in the top three to make the Olympic team, he could still drop out to focus on the 10,000m and/or 5000m on the track, should he make the team in those events at the July 1-10 trials in Eugene, Ore. In that case, the fourth-place finisher on Saturday would be elevated onto the U.S. Olympic team.

Luke Puskedra
Age: 25
PR: 2:10:24 (Chicago 2015)

The former University of Oregon distance runner surprised at the Chicago Marathon by running the fastest time by an American for all of 2015. It was his third marathon. His previous two were 2014 NYC (2:28:54) and the 2015 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. (2:15:27)

The label “fastest American in 2015” means a little less when it’s combined with the fact no American broke 2:10 in the marathon in a calendar year for the first time since 2003.

Still, Puskedra is so young that he may not be near his peak. The top four at the 2012 Olympic trials all went sub-2:10, so Puskedra may need another personal best to make his first Olympic team. Then again, Keflezighi and Ritzenhein are the only men in the field who have broken 2:10, so he might not need it.

Elkanah Kibet
Age: 32
PR: 2:11:31

A Kenya native, Kibet went to Auburn, enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a U.S. citizen in 2013. He was deployed in Kuwait and Iraq from June 2014 to March 2015 and then made his marathon debut in Chicago on Oct. 11.

His 2:11:31 ranked No. 3 among U.S. men last year behind Puskedra and Ritzenhein.

Diego Estrada
Age: 26
PR: None

Estrada is the reigning U.S. champion in the half marathon, his 1:00:51 being the fastest by an American since Rupp in 2011. There’s little else to go on with Estrada, who like Rupp is making his 26.2-mile debut.

He also finished eighth in the 10,000m and 15th in the 5000m at the 2015 U.S. Outdoor Championships. In 2012, he placed 21st in the Olympic 10,000m for Mexico.

Sam Chelanga
Age: 30
PR: None

Chelanga is a native Kenyan who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in August. He owns a half-marathon personal best of 1:01:04 from 2013 and has the second-fastest 10,000m personal best in the field behind Rupp.

MORE: Rio Olympics six months out: Key trials, qualifying dates

U.S. Olympic marathon trials women’s preview, contenders

Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Desi Linden
AP
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In a contrast from the men’s race, the U.S. Olympic women’s marathon trials outlook is not all that different from four years ago.

In 2012, Shalane Flanagan and Desi Linden (then Davila) entered as favorites to make the three-woman Olympic team and delivered a one-two finish in Houston.

Kara Goucher was certainly in the mix for an Olympic place as well, arguably a favorite to join Flanagan and Linden in the top three, and she did just that, taking third.

The younger Amy Cragg (then Hastings) and the older Deena Kastor (American record holder set in 2006) just missed, placing fourth and sixth, respectively.

Going into Saturday’s trials (NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra, 1-4 p.m. ET), the four U.S. women who have clocked sub-2:28 since Jan. 1, 2014:

  1. Shalane Flanagan — 2:21:14 (Berlin 2014)
  2. Desi Linden — 2:23:54 (Boston 2014)
  3. Amy Cragg — 2:27:03 (Chicago 2014)
  4. Deena Kastor — 2:27:47 (Chicago 2015)

The biggest question again is who is favored to finish third. Six top contenders, including five Olympians, are outlined below:

Shalane Flanagan
Age: 34
PR: 2:21:14 (Berlin 2014)
2014 Berlin Marathon — third place
2012 Olympics — 10th place
2012 Olympic marathon trials champion
2010 NYC Marathon — second place
2008 Olympics — bronze medal (10,000m)
2008 Olympics — 10th place (5000m)
2004 Olympics — first round (5000m)

Four years ago, Flanagan entered the trials with one marathon (a 2:28:40) under her belt (plus that decorated track career). She pulled away from Linden in the final two miles in Houston to win the trials by 17 seconds.

Now, Flanagan enters as the second-fastest U.S. woman ever, following a 2:22:02 with a 2:21:14, both in 2014. Linden is the only American within five minutes of those times in the last two years.

Her last marathon, Boston 2015, was not as fast — 2:27:47 — finishing as the second American behind Linden. Plus, she’s dealt with “a lot of hiccups” in training, specifically back and Achilles pain, according to Runner’s World.

Desi Linden
Age: 32
PR: 2:22:38 (Boston 2011)
2012 Olympics — DNF
2011 Boston Marathon — second place

Linden was second at the 2012 trials but pulled out of her Olympic debut 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain that had affected her training, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

It took more than one year to return to her top form after the London injury. Linden made it, finishing as the No. 1 American in her last two marathons — Boston 2015 (over Flanagan and Cragg) and New York City 2014 (over Kastor and Goucher).

Kara Goucher
Age: 37
PR: 2:24:52 (Boston 2011)
2012 Olympics — 11th place
2009 Boston Marathon — third place
2008 NYC Marathon — third place
2008 Olympics — 10th place (10,000m)
2007 World Championships — bronze medal (10,000m)
2004 Olympics — ninth place (5000m)

By qualifying times, Goucher enters the trials seeded No. 43 overall. The qualifying window was Aug. 1, 2013, through Jan. 17, 2016. Goucher’s only marathon in that stretch was a wall-smacking 2:37:03 at cold-and-windy New York City 2014, her slowest career marathon.

But in her previous two marathons before 2013 and 2014 injuries, she finished in 2:26:07 at the Olympics (16 seconds behind Flanagan) and 2:28:11 at Boston 2013 (63 seconds behind Flanagan).

After the London Games, Goucher changed coaches, training locations and sponsors and underwent knee surgery. Optimism finally returned in November and December, when she won half marathons in 1:11:13 and 1:11:10, her fastest since 2012.

“This is literally a last chance for me,” Goucher wrote on a Jan. 12 blog.

Amy Cragg
Age: 32
PR: 2:27:03 (Houston 2011, Chicago 2014)
2012 Olympics — 11th place (10,000m)

At the 2012 trials, Cragg (then Hastings) was part of the four-woman lead pack through 19 miles before fading and finishing 71 seconds behind third-place Goucher, just missing the Olympic team. Not bad for her second career marathon.

“I cried every day for a month,” Cragg said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Like Dathan Ritzenhein, she dusted herself off to make the Olympic team on the track in the 10,000m six months later.

Cragg failed to finish her 2015 marathon, in Boston, dropping out in the 22nd mile with leg cramps, her then-coach said, according to LetsRun.com. Unlike (her new training partner) Flanagan, Goucher and Linden, she has only one strong marathon finish since the 2012 trials (Chicago 2014),

Deena Kastor
Age: 42
PR: 2:19:36 (London 2006)
2008 Olympics — DNF
2008 Olympic marathon trials champion
2006 London Marathon champion
2005 Chicago Marathon champion
2004 Olympics — bronze medal
2000 Olympics — first round (10,000m)

The American record holder and last woman to earn an Olympic marathon medal was thought to be done contending in elite marathons. Until Oct. 11, when Kastor clocked 2:27:47 in Chicago.

That made Kastor the second-fastest U.S. woman for the year (behind Linden). It was her first time breaking 2:30 in six years and her fastest time since her American record in 2006.

If Kastor can follow that up with a top three in Los Angeles (one day before her 43rd birthday), she will become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time.

Misiker Demissie
Age: 29
PR: 2:25:45 (Ottawa 2013)

The former Ethiopian runner has the best PR of the remaining field, though it came three years ago. Her qualifying marathon was a 2:29:03 in Shanghai in 2014. She also clocked an uninspiring 1:13:38 half marathon on Jan. 17.

“She’s more of a long shot than what her PRs are,” Scott Simmons, a coach in Demissie’s training group, said, according to Runner’s World.

MORE: Boston Marathon film to go beyond 2013 attacks