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

Ashley Wagner ‘sick’ of hearing about her age

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KANSAS CITY — Ashley Wagner can become the oldest U.S. women’s figure skating champion in 90 years, but it would not be wise to tell her that.

“I think that this sport focuses on age way too much,” the three-time U.S. champion Wagner, 25, said in a press conference after Thursday night’s short program at Sprint Center (recap, videos here). “I’m so sick of hearing about my age. I’m so sick of it guys. If anybody asks me one more question about my age, I’ll just stop talking. It’s ridiculous.”

Wagner placed third in the short program, 1.88 points behind leader Karen Chen, who is 17 years old. She’ll try to surpass Chen in the free skate Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Chen sat in Thursday’s press conference between Wagner and second-place Mirai Nagasu, a 23-year-old who won the U.S. title way back in 2008.

“They’re my role models,” Chen said. “I watched them skate for years and years.”

Wagner then interjected before the next question.

“You just made both of us feel so old,” Wagner said, drawing laughter.

Truth is, Wagner is often asked about her age, her experience, her highs and lows, and answers respectfully and with wisdom. She did again after competing Thursday night for the first time in nearly two months, under the pressure as U.S. Championships favorite.

“I choose to view the word ‘veteran’ as experienced, and experience is never a bad thing, because I’ve gone through the good experiences and the brutally terrible awful experiences,” said Wagner, who last season earned world championships silver, ending a 10-year U.S. women’s drought.

NBC Olympics analyst Tara Lipinski was surprised to learn Wagner wasn’t particularly interested in questions about her age.

“Age is definitely a factor,” Lipinski said Friday. “You can pretend it’s not, but it is. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t, but it was. It was talked about a lot. I was too young [winning the Olympics at age 15]. Whether it’s the opposite [age] range, age is a factor.”

Wagner competes in a sport where, in other top countries, crops of teens are replaced by the next crop of teens. At last month’s Japanese and Russian Championships, the oldest women’s podium finisher was 18 years old.

Wagner may be past the usual prime years for skaters, but Lipinski pointed out that being (very) young has its disadvantages.

“I felt that I didn’t have a lot to draw on,” said Lipinski, who at 14 became the youngest U.S. women’s champion in 1997. “I didn’t have a lot of outside perspectives. Skating was my life. So any small mistake took me so down, and it was very hard for me to put this sport in perspective.”

Wagner was asked if she worried she may have peaked with that 2016 World Championships silver medal.

“If I peaked,” she said, “I would have retired.”

If Wagner makes the PyeongChang Winter Games, she would become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928. Which would actually be an incredible accomplishment in a teen-dominated sport.

That sort of statistic was probably furthest from her mind in Thursday’s press conference.

“We definitely need a new crop of girls to come in,” Wagner said, cracking a smile, “because I will die one day.”

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating head says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016, file photo, Nathan Chen of the United States, competes in the men's short program at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating final in Marseille, southern France. The 17-year-old's revelatory performance at last month's Grand Prix final in France has made him American figure skating's bright new star. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
AP
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U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage continues Friday, live on NBCSN, Universal HD and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app, starting at 6 p.m. ET.

The short dance and men’s short programs are scheduled in Kansas City.

The NBC Sports All-Access page will provide live scoring and more all week.

Short dance
6-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

Men’s short program
8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

In dance, defending champions Maia and Alex Shibutani take on two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. They’re heavy favorites for the three world championships berths.

Nathan Chen leads the men’s field, seeking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966. He faces past champions Jason Brown and Max Aaron with two worlds berths at stake this weekend

The free dance will be Saturday and the men’s free skate Sunday, both on NBC and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang