Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps shares victory in Santa Clara

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Michael Phelps notched a first-place tie and a runner-up at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on Friday night, the first time he has swum multiple finals in one session since the London Olympics.

Phelps, in his third meet this spring after sitting out 20 months, shared a 100m butterfly victory with Tom Shields in 52.11 seconds. He also finished second to the Olympic champion in the 100m freestyle.

“With having a double like that, I’m pleased,” Phelps said. “It’s still kind of frustrating. I did want to break 52.”

The women’s headliner of the meet, Missy Franklin, finished second in her only final Friday, the 100m free.

Phelps is scheduled to swim the 200m free Saturday and the 200m individual medley Sunday.

U.S. swimmers are preparing for the National Championships in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10, a selection meet for the biggest international meets the next two seasons, the Pan Pacific Championships later in August in Gold Coast, Australia, and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Phelps came from behind over the final 25 meters in the 100m fly, as is his custom, but couldn’t quite out-touch Shields. Their time, 52.11, is second behind Ryan Lochte among Americans this year. Lochte is not swimming in Santa Clara after aggravating a major knee injury earlier this spring.

Phelps swam the 100m fly in 52.13 seconds in Mesa, Ariz., in April and in Charlotte, N.C., in May. He clearly has some domestic competition in the 100m fly, an event he won at the last three Olympics.

Earlier, Phelps clocked 48.80 seconds in the 100m free, behind only Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, who won easily in 48.17. Olympic 200m free champion Yannick Agnel, a training partner of Phelps, was fifth in 49.94.

Phelps’ time put him No. 23 in the world in the event, according to FINA, and second among Americans, behind only Adrian. He’s in great shape to be part of the four-man 4x100m free relay at the Pan Pacific Championships in August, if he so chooses.

Phelps clocked 49.99 in the morning prelims, swimming the 100m free for the first time since he was the second leg in the London Olympic 4x100m free relay.

“Happier about the 100m free than I am the 100m fly,” Phelps said. “Even though, technically, I guess you could say that’s better than what I’ve been in Mesa and in Charlotte, but [coach] Bob [Bowman] and I are both kind of annoyed about going 52.1. It’s the third time we’ve done it this year. So we’d like to make a bigger breakthrough than just taking two one hundredths off of it.”

Franklin, in her only Grand Prix meet this season, took second to World Championships teammate Simone Manuel in the 100m free. Manuel clocked 54.44. She’s the fastest American this year, followed by Allison Schmitt and then Franklin, who swam 54.51.

Franklin is slated to swim four more events in Santa Clara, the 200m backstroke (Saturday), 200m free (Saturday), 100m back (Sunday) and 200m individual medley (Sunday).

Also Friday, Katie Ledecky won a 400m free in Texas in 4:03.09, the fastest time in the world this year by .75. Ledecky, 17 and the reigning female World Swimmer of the Year, broke her 1500m free world record Thursday.

In other Santa Clara events, reigning U.S. champion Kevin Cordes won the 200m breaststroke in 2:11.82, making him the fastest American this year. World bronze medalist Micah Lawrence won the women’s 200m breast in 2:26.53, two seconds slower than her U.S.-leading time at the Charlotte Grand Prix last month.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the women’s 400m free in 4:06.83, which was 3.74 seconds slower than Ledecky in Texas. World bronze medalist Connor Jaeger took the men’s 400m free in 3:47.98, .91 faster than his U.S.-leading time from Charlotte.

Felicia Lee captured the women’s 100m fly in 59.62. She’s the No. 3 American this year.

World champion swimmer unretires after Sochi trip

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross win World Series of Beach Volleyball

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Rio bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from an Olympic upset to win the biggest annual tournament in the U.S. on Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross captured the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball title in Long Beach, Calif., for the second time in three years. They beat Spanish pair Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo 21-16, 21-16 in the final.

Absent from Long Beach were Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and silver medalists Ágatha and Bárbara of Brazil.

Walsh Jennings and Ross, who lost to Ágatha and Bárbara in the Olympic semifinals, dropped a total of two sets in seven undefeated matches this past week.

They earned their fifth international title of the year after winning none in 2015, last season shortened by Walsh Jennings’ fifth right shoulder surgery.

Later, the top U.S. men’s pair of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena were scheduled to play Brazilians Pedro and Evandro in the men’s final in Long Beach.

The beach volleyball season continues with the FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto in two weeks.

MORE: Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Monica Puig’s unlikely Olympic tennis gold reminded her of ‘Miracle’ scene

Monica Puig
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NEW YORK (AP) — Monica Puig gazed out at her fellow Puerto Ricans jamming the parade route, and in their eyes she saw hope.

They hailed her with “a sense of satisfaction,” she recalled Saturday, “and a sense of belief that things are going to get better.”

Throughout her stunning run to the Olympic tennis gold medal, Puig embraced the symbolism of each upset victory. An economic crisis is devastating the island of her birth, and she appreciated that if she could prove the impossible is possible, that message would reverberate far beyond sports.

“If Puerto Rico channels that same energy and belief that things will get better and working for the better of the island, the better of the community, things will improve,” Puig said four days after the U.S. territory honored its Olympic team and, above all, its first gold medalist.

“I really hope I gave them a lot of confidence moving forward,” she added, “that things will actually get better.”

The world’s 34th-ranked women’s tennis player met with a roomful of reporters Saturday, exactly two weeks after she beat Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final in Rio de Janeiro. Poised and philosophical in ways that bely her age, the 22-year-old realizes some people deem her gold medal “a fluke.”

After all, Puig has never made it past the round of 16 at a major. And at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, she’s never advanced beyond the second round. Puig is already bracing herself for the reality that her run at Flushing Meadows could fall well short of what took place in Rio.

“I’m 22 years old. There’s still a long way for me to go, a long stretch of career,” she said. “If anything happens, any kind of slip-up, it’s not really going to be a big deal, because I have a process and I have a long-term view of where I want to go.”

Which isn’t to say she expects a slip-up.

“I know that the Olympics wasn’t a fluke for me, because I have worked very hard to get to where I am,” Puig said. “I know the hours and the tears and the sweat and everything that’s been put into my practices. It’s been very difficult for me.

“But that moment, nobody will be able to take away.”

Even she considers that Olympic moment to be like something out of a movie script. When spectators chanted “Si se puede!” (“Yes you can!” in Spanish) during the final against the second-ranked Kerber, Puig flashed back to a scene from the film “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

With fans roaring “U-S-A!” coach Herb Brooks tells his players: “Listen to them. That’s what you’ve done.” As Puig said Saturday, “I needed to listen to the crowd.”

Her gold might not have been quite as unlikely as the Miracle on Ice, but it wasn’t too far off. The night after her victory, Puig slept with the medal on her nightstand, waking up every few hours to make sure it was real. She still feels the need to check up on it during the day.

“I see the videos and I’m like, ‘Did this really just happen?'” Puig said.

When they showed the clip of her medal ceremony when she was honored in Puerto Rico, she started crying again. Through it all, she insisted Saturday, she felt she kept her focus, knowing the U.S. Open was looming.

After Rio, Puig spent some time with her family in Miami, where she lives. Then it was on to the island “where the big party was waiting.” It’s been hard to squeeze in sleep and alone time and practice — all the things she needs to recover from one big event and prepare for another.

Puig faces 60th-ranked Zheng Saisai, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics, in the first round Monday. She originally wasn’t seeded at Flushing Meadows, which meant she could have faced a top player in her opening match, but she moved up to the final seed when Sloane Stephens withdrew because of an injury Friday.

It’s the first time Puig has been seeded at a major, and in what was a breakthrough season even before her golden moment, she’s starting to grow comfortable with those sorts of roles.

“I feel like I finally understand what I’m doing when it comes to tennis,” she said.

MORE: U.S. goes one-two in Olympic mixed doubles