Katie Ledecky sets table for unprecedented world championships

Leave a comment

Katie Ledecky passed every test at nationals. Now, she has the option of taking on her biggest workload ever at a major meet.

Ledecky won her last race, the 400m freestyle, at the USA Swimming Nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, in Indianapolis on Friday night.

Ledecky clocked 3:58.44, the third-fastest time ever, 5.33 seconds ahead of runner-up Leah Smith. Ledecky has gone sub-4 a total of 10 times in her career. Only one other woman has done it once — former world-record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy.

In other events Friday, Lilly King completed a sweep of the breaststrokes by winning the 100m in 1:04.95. The time was .02 off her Olympic-winning swim and .13 off Russian rival Yuliya Efimova‘s fastest in the world this year.

Olympian Kevin Cordes broke Cody Miller‘s American record in the men’s 100m breast, clocking 58.74. Miller was second to make the world team after taking Olympic bronze. The event is dominated by Brit Adam Peaty, who owns the world record of 57.13 and the eight fastest times ever.

Matt Grevers won the men’s 100m backstroke, one year after failing to make the Rio team and defend his London gold medal. He was followed by Rio gold medalist Ryan Murphy. Olympic silver medalist Kathleen Baker took the women’s 100m back.

In the men’s 400m free, Zane Grothe and Clark Smith went one-two after finishing fourth and fifth at the Olympic Trials.

SWIM NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Event Schedule/Results

This week, Ledecky qualified for July’s world championships in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees and as part of the 4x100m and 4x200m free relay pools. She could tie Missy Franklin‘s female record six golds at a single worlds from 2013.

Ledecky will swim 6,300 meters in seven days at worlds in Budapest if she makes the final in all of those individual events and swims once in each relay.

With the addition of the 4x100m free, it would be 100 more meters than she swam at the 2015 Worlds, where she completed the Ledecky Slam by winning five gold medals.

In Rio, Ledecky swam 3,400 meters and won four golds and one silver. The women’s 1500m free was not on the Olympic program. Michael Phelps swam 3,300 meters when he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.

None of the other great recent distance swimmers — Grant HackettSun Yang and Kate Ziegler among them — swam 6,300 meters at a major meet.

Smith has qualified for worlds in the 200m, 400m and 800m frees and in the 400m individual medley with a 1500m free spot available at nationals Saturday, should she enter the race and win it.

Ledecky’s potential schedule at worlds in Budapest:

Day 1 — July 23
400m freestyle heats (morning)
400m freestyle final (night)
4x100m freestyle final (night)

Day 2 — July 24
1500m freestyle heats (morning)

Day 3 — July 25
200m freestyle heats (morning)
200m freestyle semifinals (night)
1500m freestyle final (night)

Day 4 — July 26
200m freestyle final (night)

Day 5 — July 27
4x200m freestyle (night)

Day 6 — July 28
800m freestyle heats (morning)

Day 7 — July 29
800m freestyle final (evening)

Day 8 — July 30 (last day)
Rest

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Franklin: ‘What if I’m never as good as I was?’

Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

AP
Leave a comment

Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Michael Phelps: I’d give Conor McGregor a head start

Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: World Road Cycling Championships broadcast schedule