Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte

U.S. Swimming Championships entry lists released

Leave a comment

Michael Phelps could swim up to four events at next week’s U.S. Championships, and he may face Ryan Lochte in all of them.

Here are the top U.S. swimmers’ listed events on psych sheets (entry lists) released Thursday:

Phelps — 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley
Lochte — 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley
Missy Franklin — 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke
Katie Ledecky — 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 400m individual medley

The U.S. Championships serve as a qualifying meet for the year’s biggest international meet, the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24. Both the U.S. Championships and Pan Pacs serve as qualifying meets for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Swimmers who make the team for Pan Pacs (essentially those who finish in the top two of an individual event at Nationals) are open to enter other events at Pan Pacs.

Therefore, it’s not a big deal for swimmers such as Phelps, Lochte, Franklin and Ledecky to swim a packed schedule at Nationals. The priority is making the team for Pan Pacs in one event, and they can add to their plates in Australia.

What’s more, swimmers (Lochte especially) tend to enter more events at Nationals than they plan to swim to be safe. Expect some or all of the big names to scratch out of events next week (Ledecky surely must).

So, with those caveats in mind, here are some takeaways:

The most interesting news is what Phelps isn’t entered in — the 200m freestyle. He’s the third-fastest American in the event this year (full U.S. rankings here) and finished second to French training partner Yannick Agnel in the 200m free at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on June 21.

It wouldn’t be surprising at all for Phelps to swim the 200m free at Pan Pacs, assuming he makes that team of course.

Lochte, coming back from an aggravation of his November knee injury, is entered in all of the events he’s been known to swim at major international meets, except the 400m IM, which he swore off after the London Olympics but swam in at least one domestic meet in 2013 (but not at Nationals or Worlds).

Franklin’s events are unsurprising as well. She won all four of those events at last year’s Nationals and won three of them at the World Championships.

Ledecky would have to be Superwoman to swim in all of her entered events (she might be, actually, if you’ve seen her times this year).

Watch to see if she swims the 200m free. She finished second to Franklin in it at last year’s Nationals but dropped it for Worlds because it jammed her schedule. Ledecky has been faster than the World champion Franklin and Olympic champion Allison Schmitt in the 200m free this year.

Ledecky has never raced the 50m free or 100m free at Nationals, nor the IMs. Expect her to scratch those and focus on, at most, the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles.

Here’s the broadcast schedule for Nationals, from Irvine, Calif.:

Wednesday — 9-11 p.m. ET, Universal Sports
Saturday — 4-6, NBC
Sunday — 4-6, NBC
Sunday — 11-midnight, NBCSN

USA Swimming will also have a live webcast of the entire meet here. Daily prelims start at noon ET, with finals at 9 p.m. ET.

Meb Keflezighi, Caroline Wozniacki to run New York City Marathon

Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss wants Russia out of PyeongChang

Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened