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.

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Ryan Lochte ‘wipes away the past’ in Power Bar video

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For the second time in as many months, Ryan Lochte stars in a jocular ad making a veiled reference to his Rio Olympic gas-station incident.

The swimmer wipes away “the past” on a foggy bathroom mirror and throws a blond wig out of a sunroof in a one-minute Power Bar video published Tuesday.

The company’s tag line in the video is “Clean Start.”

“For example, I am going to recommit myself to water sports,” Lochte says in the spot.

The ad follows a December video for Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops, where Lochte starred in a spot with a closing banner that read, “Pine Bros.: In this Season of Forgiveness.”

Lochte had previously lost sponsorship deals, including with Speedo, after his Rio Olympic gas-station incident for which he was suspended through June by USA Swimming, plus for the world championships in July.

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U.S. Figure Skating Championships men’s preview

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The stage is set for Nathan Chen in Kansas City this week.

The 17-year-old is arguably the biggest favorite of any senior discipline at the U.S. Championships, looking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966.

Chen, who boasts six quadruple jumps between his two programs, broke out at the Grand Prix Final in December by taking a silver medal. That propelled him to the top of U.S. men’s skating.

He outscored the reigning Olympic and world champions in the free skate at the Grand Prix Final in the best U.S. men’s international performance since Evan Lysacek won Olympic gold in 2010.

Chen’s chances for gold this week were boosted by the withdrawal of 2016 U.S. champion and training partner Adam Rippon due to a broken foot. And by 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown‘s recent right leg injury.

Brown is still in the field, though, as is 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron. Chen, Brown and Aaron are vying for two spots on the team for the world championships in two months in Helsinki.

“Those are the very clear top three,” NBC Olympics analyst Johnny Weir said. “It’ll take a disaster or a performance of a lifetime for anybody else to get into that top three.”

Friday
Men’s short program — 8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
Sunday
Men’s free skate — 4-6 p.m., NBC

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule
PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Nathan Chen
Age: 17
Hometown: Salt Lake City
2016 Grand Prix Final silver medalist
2016 U.S. bronze medalist
Two-time U.S. junior and novice champion

Chen came back strong this season following the first major injury of his career suffered at least year’s nationals exhibition. Hip surgery kept Chen from making his world championships debut in 2016, but he’s now poised to lead the U.S. men into Helsinki, trying to earn three Olympic berths. First, Chen goes for his first senior national title.

Tara Lipinski’s Take: Nathan is the star of the show this year. The type of talent he has doesn’t come along every day. He possibly could be on the Olympic podium next year with the technical skating he’s giving us. Artistically, his component scores, if you look at him from last nationals to this nationals, he’s a different skater. He may not be [Olympic champion Yuzuru] Hanyu yet, but he has all the makings of a great, artistic male skater. I think he’s already giving us enough, to be honest.

Jason Brown
Age: 22
Hometown: Colorado Springs
2015 U.S. champion
Fourth at 2015 World Championships

Don’t forget that Brown was one spot off the podium at the 2015 Worlds. It’s been mostly a nightmare since for the 2014 Olympic sensation. Brown missed the 2016 U.S. Championships with a back strain and revealed last week that he was off the ice for the last two weeks of December with a stress fracture in his right fibula. Brown is the only man in this week’s field who has been within 40 points of Chen’s best total score this season.

Johnny Weir’s Take: Now that Adam Rippon is out, the artistic challenger, if he can land a quad, is Jason Brown. He’s won the national title before. He knows what it takes and what that kind of pressure feels like. That is an advantage he has over Nathan Chen. If he lands the quad and creates that artistic moment, he is very favored in the U.S. by the judging panel. He will need a quad toe loop if he’s going to hold off Nathan Chen.

Max Aaron
Age: 24
Hometown: Colorado Springs
2013 U.S. champion
2015 Skate America champion

Aaron may be the best pure athlete in the field. He has finished in the top four at nationals each of the last four years, but it’ll probably take top two this week to earn a world championships spot. He’ll likely have to beat the injured Brown.

Johnny Weir’s Take: He has great skating skills. He’s a wonderful athlete. But I don’t think his free program especially is strong enough choreographically to challenge either Nathan Chen or Jason Brown.

Grant Hochstein
Age: 26
Hometown: Artesia, Calif.
Fourth at 2016 U.S. Championships
10th at 2016 World Championships

Hochstein was placed on the 2016 World Championships team after Chen withdrew due to that hip injury. He finished a respectable 10th in his worlds debut but dropped to 11th in each of his fall Grand Prix starts. Hochstein ranks seventh this season among men in the U.S. Championships field.

Tim Dolensky
Age: 24
Hometown: Kennesaw, Ga.
Seventh at 2016 U.S. Championships

Dolensky had his best U.S. Championships finish last season and ranks behind only Chen, Brown, Rippon and Aaron among U.S. skaters’ top scores this season.

Vincent Zhou
Age: 16
Hometown: Riverside, Calif.
2013 U.S. junior champion
Fifth at 2016 World Junior Championships

Zhou would be a bigger threat if he hadn’t pulled out of his last event in December with a leg injury. Still, he has the jumping firepower, when he lands them, to contend for the podium when healthy.

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