Katie Ledecky

Lochte, Franklin, Ledecky seek more gold at swim worlds; Saturday preview

1 Comment

There are two full days of competition left at the world swimming championships, but Saturday (NBC 1-3 p.m. ET) marks the final individual swims for Ryan LochteMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

They’ve won a combined 11 medals, 10 of them gold, this week in Barcelona. If they were one country, they would rank second in the medal table.

The U.S., by the way, is dominating the standings with 22 medals and 10 golds. The next closest are Australia with nine medals and China with four golds.

Lochte, with three golds and one silver, swims the 100-meter butterfly final at a world championships or Olympics for the first time in his career. He’s the top seed entering the final but no lock for gold. He will then swim the butterfly leg on Sunday’s medley relay to close his meet.

Franklin, with four golds, is the heavy favorite in the 200 backstroke final. She also has the medley relay left Sunday. If she wins both, she’ll be the first swimmer to win six golds at a single world championships and the fourth to win six medals of any color. East Germany’s Kristin Otto won six golds at the 1988 Olympics.

Ledecky, 16, with three golds, takes her final swim in her signature event, the 800 freestyle, where she could break her second world record of the meet. She would become the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining Germany’s Hannah Stockbauer, who did it 10 years ago at this same pool.

Scroll down for full fields, previews and medal picks for Saturday’s events:

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final (Vollmer)
Men’s 50 Freestyle Final (Adrian, Ervin)
Women’s 200 Backstroke Final (Franklin)
Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals
Men’s 100 Butterfly Final (Lochte)
Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals
Women’s 800 Freestyle Final (Ledecky)

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final

Field
1. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.50
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 25.68
3. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.90
4. Melanie Henique (FRA) 25.95
5. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.06
6. Inge Dekker (NED) 26.11
7. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.12
7. Ying Lu (CHN) 26.12

Preview
Ottesen Gray pulled out of the 100 free, where she was the defending co-world champion. Here, she looks like the gold-medal favorite after posting the fastest time of 2013 in the semifinals. This is a non-Olympic event. Kromowidjojo, the Olympic champ in the 50 and 100 free, hasn’t been in peak form in Barcelona but is also a medal favorite, along with Halsall. Britain has yet to win a medal this week. Vollmer is the wild card. She took bronze in the 100 fly earlier this week but is now over an illness and could jump into the medals.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ottesen Gray
Silver: Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Halsall

Men’s 50 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.37
2. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.42
3. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.60
3. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.60
5. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 21.62
6. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.63
7. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 21.67
8. George Bovell (TRI) 21.74

Preview
Manaudou is the 2012 Olympic champion and gold-medal favorite. Cielo is the two-time defending world champion and was thought to be the silver-medal favorite before Ervin posted a personal best in the semifinals. Ervin, 32, won this event at the world championships 12 years ago. Adrian is much better in the 100 but is an outside medal threat.

Medal Picks
Gold: Manaudou
Silver: Cielo
Bronze: Ervin

Women’s 200 Backstroke Final

Field
1. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:06.46
2. Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:07.15
3. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:08.20
4. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:08.49
5. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:08.74
6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.97
7. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:09.08
8. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:09.84

Preview
Franklin won’t be touched in her signature event. She’s the reigning world champion, Olympic champion and world record holder. Only Pelton has been within a second of Franklin’s best time this year. The silver and bronze are up for grabs among Caldwell, Pelton and Hocking. But don’t lose sight of Hosszu, the 200 individual medley champion from this week.

Medal Picks
Gold: Franklin
Silver: Pelton
Bronze: Hocking

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Field
1. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.78 WR
2. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.99
3. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 30.07
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.46
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.55
6. Mariia Liver (UKR) 30.68
7. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.77
8. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.82
9. Fiona Doyle (IRL) 30.93
10. Alia Atkinson (JAM) 31.12
11. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 31.22
12. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 31.23
13. Rebecca Ejdervik (SWE) 31.39
14. Yuzhe He (CHN) 31.46
15. Samantha Marshall (AUS) 31.49
16. Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir (ISL) 31.50

Preview
Tough week for Hardy, who lost both of her breaststroke world records in Barcelona. Meilutyte took down the 100 breast mark, and now Efimova has the 50 record. Sunday’s final should be a real meeting of champions. Efimova won the 200 breast Friday. Meilutyte won the 100 breast Tuesday. Hardy is the defending world champion. They’ve all gone sub-30 this year, and they’re the only women to do so. Larson is probably the best of the rest.

Men’s 100 Butterfly Final

Field
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.48
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.52
3. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 51.55
4. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.60
5. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.61
6. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 51.64
7. Steffen Deibler (GER) 51.65
8. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 51.78

Preview
Lochte looks to continue a U.S. gold-medal streak at this event at every worlds or Olympics since 2003. Michael Phelps won the last three world titles and last three Olympic titles. If Lochte wins (or medals), he’ll do something Phelps never did — win world titles in four different disciplines. No man or woman has ever done it, according to John Lohn of swimvortex.com. It could be close. Lochte has the top seed time, but le Clos, the 200 fly champ, and Czerniak are right there with him. Deibler has gone 51.19 this year.

Medal Picks
Gold: Lochte
Silver: Le Clos
Bronze: Korotyshkin

Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Field
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.27
2. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.60
3. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.65
4. Ranomi Kromomwidjojo (NED) 24.68
5. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.78
6. Chantal van Landeghem (CAN) 24.89
7. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.93
8. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.99
9. Natalie Coughlin (USA) 25.00
10. Victoria Poon (CAN) 25.01
10. Aleksandra Urbanczyk (POL) 25.01
12. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.04
13. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (BAH) 25.15
14. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 25.19
15. Hanna-Maria Seppala (FIN) 25.20
16. Pernille Blume (DEN) 25.23

Preview
Campbell returns a day after winning the 100 free in impressive fashion as the clear favorite to be the top seed going into this final as well. Her younger sister, Bronte, 19, and Halsall and Kromowidjojo are the most likely of anyone to challenge her, if that’s possible. Manuel and Coughlin, the most decorated world championships swimmer of all time, will have to fight to make the final.

Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Field
1. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.67
2. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.72
3. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.79
4. Gerhard Zandberg (RSA) 24.85
5. David Plummer (USA) 24.91
6. Bastiaan Lijesen (NED) 24.94
7. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.97
8. Guy Marcos Barnea (ISR) 25.01
8. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 25.01
10. Matt Grevers (USA) 25.08
11. Lavrans Solli (NOR) 25.15
12. Jonatan Josef Kopelev (ISR) 25.17
13. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 25.36
14. Pavel Sankovich (BLR) 25.40
15. Federico Grabrich (ARG) 25.44
16. Juan Miguel Rando Galvez (ESP) 25.52

Preview
Grevers won the 100 backstroke world title, but Plummer, the silver medalist in the 100 back, is stronger in this event. He owns the fastest time of 2013. Grevers is on the bubble of making Sunday’s final. The other top medal contenders are Stravius, Orzechowski and Lacourt.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:20.65
2. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:21.00
3. Lotte Friis (DEN) 8:23.00
4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 8:25.03
5. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 8:26.26
6. Martina De Memme (ITA) 8:26.95
7. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 8:27.03
8. Chloe Sutton (USA) 8:27.41

Preview
The world record could be in play here, given Ledecky already broke the mark in the 1,500 this week and was just a half-second off of it when she won gold in London. The woman with the fastest time of 2013, Britain’s Jazmin Carlin, didn’t make the final. So Friis and Boyle, silver and bronze medalists in the 1,500 free, will again be the closest to Ledecky. But they shouldn’t be all that close. Spain’s best overall swimmer, Belmonte Garcia, goes for her third medal of worlds.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ledecky
Silver: Boyle
Bronze: Friis

What Jason Lezak is doing in retirement

Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

Leave a comment

In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Dressel recalls summer tears in Golden Goggles speech

Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2019-20 Alpine skiing season TV schedule