Nathan Adrian

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky win gold medals at world swimming championships Thursday

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The U.S.’ three best swimmers shined at the world championships Thursday, each picking up gold medals on the fifth night of finals in Barcelona.

Ryan Lochte won his first title of these worlds, crushing the field by more than a second in the 200-meter individual medley in 1 minute, 54.98 seconds. He won his third straight world title in the event and did it with the fastest time in the world this year.

Lochte appears to be rounding into form after an average split in the silver medal-winning 4×100 free relay Sunday and a fourth place in the 200 freestyle Tuesday. He has a potential four events left, including the final of the 200 backstroke Friday.

Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin led the U.S. 4×200 free relay team to gold. Ledecky, 16, took her third gold in as many events at the meet. Franklin, 18, now has four golds with three events left. She could become the first woman ever to win seven medals of any color at a single world championships.

Franklin’s anchor leg on the relay was particularly memorable. She dove in with a 1.12 second deficit to Australian Alicia Coutts, a seasoned veteran with five Olympic and seven world medals to her name. Franklin’s split time was 1.75 seconds faster than any of the other 31 swimmers in the relay final. The U.S. won by 2.84 seconds.

In the other anticipated final Thursday, Australia’s biggest star, James Magnussen, defended his 100 free world title. Americans Jimmy Feigen and Nathan Adrian took silver and bronze, respectively. Adrian had beaten Magnussen by .01 to win the Olympic title.

There was also another world record set — the third of the meet — plus a pair of Chinese victories in women’s finals. Scroll down for full results, video highlights and analysis.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Women’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.87
2. Cate Campbell (AUS) 53.09
3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.29
4. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.68
5. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.78
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.85
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 53.99
8. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.09

Summary
Campbell is a heavy favorite in Friday’s final, but Franklin has a shot at a medal as she vies for a female record seven medals at a single worlds. Franklin was four tenths slower than in the morning prelims (where she set a personal best), but she still won her semifinal and was likely saving energy for the 4×200 free relay. Sjostrom, the 100 butterfly champion, swam a personal best, but she’s still a half second slower than Campbell’s world-leading time for 2013. Kromowidjojo is the Olympic champion.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley Final

Results
Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:54.98

Silver: Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.29
Bronze: Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:56.30
4. Wang Shun (CHN) 1:56.86
5. Laszlo Csesh (HUN) 1:57.70
6. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:57.88
7. Daiya Seto (JPN) 1:58.45
8. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:59.79

Summary
With his first gold at this meet, Lochte becomes the fifth man to win three straight world titles in one event (Michael PhelpsAaron PeirsolIan ThorpeGrant Hackett). He was behind after 50 and 100 meters (Pereira led) but took a half-second lead after the breaststroke and cruised home. Lochte now has a gold, a silver and a fourth through three of a potential seven events. He posted the fastest 200 IM time in the world this year. Hagino, 18, won his second silver of the meet.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) 2:19.11 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.85
3. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:22.88
4. Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:23.23
5. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:23.28
6. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.14
7. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:24.19
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:24.68

Summary
The Dane Pedersen destroyed Rebecca Soni‘s world record of 2:19.59 from out of nowhere and couldn’t stop screaming after touching the wall. Pedersen’s previous best time was 2:20.53, and she was fourth at the Olympics. Efimova is the reigning world silver and Olympic bronze medalist. Lawrence was 1.5 seconds slower than her prelim personal best time, but she’s in the medal picture.

Men’s 100 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: James Magnussen (AUS) 47.71

Silver: Jimmy Feigen (USA) 47.82
Bronze: Nathan Adrian (USA) 47.84
4. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 47.88
5. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.02
6. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 38.28
7. Fabie Gilot (FRA) 48.33
8. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.58

Summary
Magnussen defends his world title and takes down Adrian, who beat him by .01 at the Olympics. Feigen, who bounced back from a poor 4×100 free relay swim to qualify second into the final, wins a surprise silver over Adrian. Magnussen was fifth at the turn behind Morozov, who went out a quarter-second under world record pace. Magnussen won the world title despite going two tenths slower than his world-leading time of 2013. He celebrated by sitting on the lane line, flexing his biceps and pointing his index finger in the air.

Women’s 200 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Liu Zige (CHN) 2:04.59

Silver: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:04.78
Bronze: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:05.59
4. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 2:06.09
5. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:06.58
6. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:06.65
7. Camille Adams (USA) 2:07.73
8. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:08.40

Summary
Liu, the 2008 Olympic champion and world record holder, was dead even with Belmonte Garcia going to the final 50. Of course, the crowd was going nuts. They were chanting the Spaniard’s name well after the race ended. Belmonte Garcia was trying to become the first Spanish swimmer born in Spain to win an Olympic or world title. Hosszu added bronze to her 200 IM gold. Adams was fifth at the Olympics and had qualified second into the final.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:08.50
2. Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.61
2. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.11
2. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (RUS) 2:09.47
3. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.96
6. Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:09.96
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:10.00
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.01

Summary
Kevin Cordes
, the U.S. and NCAA champion, was a half-second under world record pace at 100 meters in his semifinal and faded badly to finish fourth and miss the final. Gyurta is the favorite, the Olympic champion and two-time defending world champion. Keep an eye out for Jamieson, who has the fastest time in the world this year, and Yamaguchi, 18, who broke Gyurta’s world record a month after the Olympics.

Women’s 50 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.29

Silver: Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.39
Bronze: Aya Terakawa (JPN) 27.53
4. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 27.83
5. Mercedes Paris (ESP) 27.93
6. Georgia Davies (GBR) 27.96
7. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 28.05
8. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.33

Summary
This is not an Olympic event. Franklin actually entered it and qualified for the semifinals Wednesday before pulling out. Zhao upset her favored countrywoman Fu, who had been three tenths faster than everyone in the semifinals. Zhao also won this event in 2009. Terakawa was the 2011 silver medalist.

Men’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.16
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:55.88
3. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:56.14
3. Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:56.14
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.24
6. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:56.42
7. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:56.97
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:57.37

Summary
Lochte navigated his two-swim night pretty well after winning the 200 IM. He’ll look to dethrone the Olympic champion Clary. Irie, who has the fastest time in the world this year, took silver in the Olympic final, above Lochte’s bronze. Lochte is the defending world champion though. It would be a slight surprise to see anybody else medal, but Kawecki and the teen Hagino have a shot.

Women’s 4×200 Free Relay Final

Results
Gold: USA 7:45.14

Silver: Australia 7:47.98
Bronze: France 7:48.43
4. China 7:49.79
5. Spain 7:53.20
6. Canada 7:55.48
7. Italy 7:57.91
8. Japan 7:58.15

Summary
That makes three golds for Katie Ledecky and four golds for Missy Franklin at worlds. Ledecky has one event left (800 free) to finish four for four. Franklin, who swam an incredible anchor leg after going in more than one second behind Australia, has three events to go. Ledecky gave the U.S. the lead with a 1:56.32, beating the 200 free bronze medalist Camille Muffat of France. France took the lead after American Shannon Vreeland‘s second leg. Karlee Bispo of the U.S. swam the third leg, passing France, but being passed by Australia. Alicia Coutts of Australia took a 1.12-second lead onto the final leg. Franklin cut it to .06 after the first 50 of the anchor leg, then took a 1.16 lead on the next 50. Franklin’s 1:54.27 split was 1.75 seconds faster than any of the other 31 swimmers.

FINA president believes Phelps is coming back

Rafael Nadal can tie Roger Federer’s Slam record with 13th French Open

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For all of the many qualities contributing to Rafael Nadal’s unprecedented superiority at the French Open — the bullwhip of a high-bouncing lefty forehand, the reflex returns, the cover-every-corner athleticism, the endless energy and grit — there’s one element that stands above all the rest.

According to the opponent Nadal beat in the last two finals in Paris, anyway.

“You go into the match knowing that even your best tennis, even if you play it over three, four hours, might not be enough. I mean, if you do it, you maybe have a little chance, but you have to go to your limit on every single rally, every single point,” Dominic Thiem, who won the U.S. Open less than two weeks ago, told The Associated Press.

“That makes it not easy to go into the match,” Thiem said. “And that’s the mental part, I guess.”

When main-draw competition begins Sunday at Roland Garros, Thiem and every other player in the men’s bracket will be pursuing Nadal as the 34-year-old from Spain pursues history.

If Nadal manages to claim a 13th French Open championship — extending his own record for the most singles trophies won by anyone at any major tennis tournament — he would, more significantly, also collect his 20th Grand Slam title overall, tying Roger Federer’s record for a man.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Nadal’s tally elsewhere: four U.S. Opens, two Wimbledons, one Australian Open.

He spoke Friday in Paris about what “probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros” — a lack of matches in 2020; a new brand of tennis balls (“super slow, heavy”); cooler weather and plenty of rain in the forecast.

“But you know what?” Nadal said. “I am here to fight and to play with the highest intensity possible.”

Asked recently about the possibility of catching the 39-year-old Federer, out for the rest of the season after a pair of operations on his right knee, Nadal expressed a sentiment he’s uttered before.

Climbing the Grand Slam list, Nadal said, is “not an obsession at all.”

“I know that you put a lot of attention on all of this,” he replied when the topic was raised last week at the Italian Open, Nadal’s first tournament since February because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Of course I would love to finish my career with 25, but (that’s) something that probably will not happen. I’m going to keep fighting to produce chances, and then when I finish my career, let’s see, no?” he said. “I just want to keep enjoying tennis. And that’s it. If I am playing well, I know I normally have my chances. If not, going to be impossible. That’s it.”

There is, of course, another great of the game playing during this era and, like Nadal, gaining on Federer.

That would be No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who had won five of seven major titles to raise his total to 17 before being disqualified at the U.S. Open for accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball while walking to a changeover.

In this oddest of years, the Grand Slam season will drawing to a close in France; the clay-court major was postponed from May until now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Roland Garros is the last Slam, the last opportunity of this season. So we all know who the main favorite is there: Obviously, it’s Nadal. And everything that he has achieved there, losing maybe a couple matches in his entire career on that court … is probably the most impressive record that anybody has on any court,” Djokovic said. “So, yeah, of course you would put him right there in front as a favorite to win it.”

For the record: Nadal has won 93 of 95 matches in the French Open and his last 21 in a row.

So what makes him so dominant there?

“He’s an unbelievably great tennis player. Probably on clay, a little bit better than on the other surfaces,” Thiem said. “He’s left-handed, which makes it very uncomfortable. And then his forehand, the topspin on the clay, it’s cruel to play.”

Thiem takes notes and hopes to emulate aspects of Nadal’s game.

So do others.

In Rome, for example, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep and one of her coaches, Artemon Apostu-Efremov, caught one of Nadal’s training sessions.

“We were watching the way he hits the ball, the acceleration, the energy he has on the court and the way he practices 100%. It’s always an inspiration,” Apostu-Efremov said.

“This dedication on the court and focus on court,” he said, “it’s something that, for sure, could be transferred to Simona.”

Nadal wound up losing his third match in Italy, which is neither ideal form nor the sort of prep work he is accustomed to ahead of Roland Garros.

Still, Nadal at the French Open is unlike anyone else, anywhere else.

“Regardless of how he feels, I’m sure he’ll find a way,” said Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 2019 Australian Open semifinalist seeded No. 5 in Paris. “He always finds a way, every single year. Clay is his surface. I’m sure he’s going to do well.”

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Skate America will not have fans

Skate America
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Skate America, the top annual international figure skating competition held in the U.S., will not have spectators in Las Vegas from Oct. 23-25.

U.S. Figure Skating said the restriction was “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in strict accordance with the Nevada Gaming Control Board guidelines.”

Skate America is the first top-level event of the season, kicking off the six-stop Grand Prix Series leading up to December’s Grand Prix Final, which is scheduled this season for Beijing.

The series has already been modified to restrict fields to skaters from the host country or to the event closest to their training location.

Grand Prix fields have not been announced, though two-time world champion Nathan Chen said last month he hoped to go for a fourth straight Skate America title.

Chen trains in California. Most, if not all, top U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada, which means they will compete in Skate America or Skate Canada if they participate in the Grand Prix Series at all.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough to compete on the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

Skaters are limited to one Grand Prix start this season. In past seasons, they’ve typically competed twice.

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