Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps takes third; Conor Dwyer takes BMW

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Michael Phelps‘ loss at the Santa Clara Grand Prix was a big, big gain for training partner Conor Dwyer.

Dwyer erased a .25 of a second deficit on Phelps in the final 50 meters to win the 200m individual medley on Sunday, the meet’s final day. Phelps, in his third meet since taking 20 months off after the 2012 Olympics, fell to third behind Chase Kalisz.

Dwyer out touched Kalisz, 1:59.49 to 1:59.53 (video here). Phelps came in at 1:59.76 in his first 200m IM final since winning his third straight Olympic gold in the event in London.

The victory carried added significance for Dwyer. NBC Olympics and Universal Sports analyst Rowdy Gaines informed Dwyer before the final that if he won he would earn an extra $20,000 and a one-year use of a BMW as the overall Grand Prix series champion.

“I’m never racing for money, but I guess it was a nice reminder,” Dwyer said on Universal Sports. “A little extra incentive right there.”

Phelps swam more at the Santa Clara Grand Prix than at his previous two comeback meets combined. He also tied for the win in the 100m butterfly and finished second to the Olympic champions in the 100m and 200m freestyles.

“He’s light years ahead of where we started,” said Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s only going to get better.”

Time will tell if Phelps goes with these four events moving forward, but he’s already among the top Americans two months into his competitive comeback. Here’s where he ranks on U.S. lists for 2014:

100m Freestyle
1. Nathan Adrian — 48.08
2. Michael Phelps — 48.8

200m Freestyle
1. Conor Dwyer — 1:47.86
2. Michael Phelps — 1:48.2

100m Butterfly
1. Ryan Lochte — 51.93
T2. Michael Phelps — 52.11
T2. Tom Shields — 52.11

200m IM
1. Conor Dwyer — 1:59.49
2. Chase Kalisz — 1:59.53
3. Michael Phelps — 1:59.76

U.S. swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10 and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, later in August.

Phelps could compete again before Nationals, reportedly in Athens, Ga., in three weeks.

In other finals Sunday, Missy Franklin notched her second victory in four events this weekend, earning the 100m backstroke title in 1:00.99 (video here). She also won the 200m free and was third in the 200m back Saturday and second in the 100m free Friday.

Franklin, who became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships last year, veered toward the edge of her lane line like she did in the 200m back Saturday.

“I happy I didn’t slam into it like I did last night,” said a smiling, laughing Franklin, a rising sophomore at California. “So I’ll totally take it.”

Three-time Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin, who may soon switch countries, beat Olympic champion Matt Grevers in the 100m back, 54.34 to 54.95.

Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz won the 200m IM in 2:12.61.

U.S. champion Kevin Cordes completed a breaststroke sweep, capturing the 100m breast in 1:00.91. Laura Sogar prevailed in the women’s 100m breast in 1:09.15.

Two-time South African Olympian Sebastien Rousseau took the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:58.50. Venezuelan Olympian Adreina Pinto won the women’s 200m fly in 2:10.59.

Rising college freshman Cierra Runge won the women’s 800m free in 8:26.71.

Katie Ledecky breaks another world record Sunday

Lance Armstrong’s $100 million trial set for November

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 20:  Lance Armstrong (C) heads out with cyclists on December 20, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. The disgraced Tour de France rider is in New Zealand to film a commercial, and put out a call on social media for local riders to join him on a ride along the Auckland Waterfront.  (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong‘s $100 million legal fight with the federal government has been set for a November trial.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Thursday set a Nov. 6 trial start in Washington. Armstrong’s legal team had asked to postpone trial until 2018 because of a potential scheduling conflict.

The government wants Armstrong to pay back the $32 million the U.S. Postal Service paid his team for sponsorship, plus triple damages.

Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis initially filed the whistle-blower case in 2010, accusing him of violating the sponsorship contract by taking performance-enhancing drugs. The government joined the case in 2013 after Armstrong admitted cheating and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and 2000 Olympic bronze medal.

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for cheating, could collect up to 25 percent of damages awarded.

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Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin set for busy weekend

Lindsey Vonn, MIkaela Shiffrin
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Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin are slated for one of the busiest race weekends of their careers, streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app starting Friday morning.

Vonn and Shiffrin are each expected to race Friday, Saturday and Sunday in World Cup action in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

The schedule:

Friday — Super Combined
Super-G run: 4:30 a.m. ET
Slalom run: 8:30 a.m. ET

Saturday — Super-G
4:30 a.m. ET

Sunday — Super Combined
Super-G run: 4:30 a.m. ET
Slalom run: 7:30 a.m. ET

Plenty is at stake in the first races since the world championships.

Vonn, who earned downhill bronze at worlds, hopes to move closer to the career World Cup wins record of 86 held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark. She picked up her 77th victory last month, her only win in eight races since coming back in January from knee and upper arm fractures.

Vonn returned quickly, with little training, and said at worlds she was unable to put her hair in a ponytail due to a lack of grip in her right hand from November broken arm surgery. She duct-taped her right glove to her ski pole for her final two races at worlds.

Vonn last won a super-G on Jan. 24, 2016, and last won a combined event on Jan. 27, 2012.

Shiffrin, who took slalom gold and giant slalom silver at worlds, enters the weekend with a hefty 414-point lead on her closest challenger in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

It would take a collapse in the final 11 races over the next month for Shiffrin not to become the third U.S. woman to take the crown after Tamara McKinney and Vonn.

It looked as if Shiffrin and defending overall champion Lara Gut would battle for the title, until Gut suffered a torn ACL and meniscus damage in a world championships super combined warm-up two weeks ago, ending her season.

Shiffrin, already a multiple Olympic medal favorite, could be poised for her first World Cup podium in super-G or super combined this weekend. She was a career-best fourth in her most recent super-G at a World Cup stop last month.

The youngest Olympic slalom champion will also benefit from the fact that Friday and Sunday’s combined races feature a super-G and a slalom rather than a downhill and a slalom. Shiffrin is stronger in super-G than downhill.

After Crans-Montana, the World Cup schedule has three more stops — a downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, followed by a giant slalom and slalom in Squaw Valley, Calif., and the four-race World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo.

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