Ryan Lochte

Franklin, Lochte set to wrap up world swimming championships; Sunday preview

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Missy Franklin swims for a history-making gold No. 6 and Ryan Lochte eyes gold No. 4 on the final night of the world swimming championships Sunday (NBC, 4-6 p.m. ET).

Franklin is expected to lead off the U.S. women’s 4×100 medley relay in the backstroke (though she could swim the anchor freestyle, as well). The U.S. is favored to hold off Australia in the event, the last swim on the program at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

Should the Americans prevail, Franklin will finish the meet with six gold medals in eight events (she scratched the 50 backstroke after the preliminary heats and took fourth in the 100 freestyle). No woman has won six golds at a single world championships.

The only women to win six medals of any color are East German Kristin Otto and Americans Shirley Babashoff and Tracy Caulkins, all of whom accomplished the feat before Franklin, 18, was born. Otto is the only woman to win six gold medals at a single Olympics.

Lochte joins the men’s medley relay for the third leg, the butterfly. The U.S. men are favorites, albeit slightly less than the women, over the Aussies there. If the U.S. wins, Lochte will finish the meet with four golds and one silver in seven events. He won the 200 backstroke, 200 individual medley and the 4×200 free relay and was second in the 4×100 free relay. Lochte also took fourth in the 200 free and sixth in the 100 butterfly.

Lochte, the second most decorated swimmer in world championships history behind Michael Phelps, racked up five golds and one bronze in 2011 and four golds and one bronze in 2009.

The U.S. has already secured the top spot in the medal standings for both golds and overall medals. It has 12 golds (next highest is four) and 24 overall (next highest is 10). It is extremely unlikely to surpass the gold-medal total from 2011 (16), but has a shot of matching or exceeding the overall count from 2011 (29).

The U.S.’ best performance at a post-Olympics world championships came in 2005, when it won 15 gold medals and 32 overall, but Phelps competed at those worlds. That the Americans will finish close to those totals this year, with Phelps retired, is a testament to the depth of USA Swimming.

Live results

Men’s 50 Backstroke Final

Field
1. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.39
2. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.45
3. Guy Barnea (ISR) 24.73
4. Matt Grevers (USA) 24.79
4. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.79
6. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.90
7. Jonatan Kopolev (ISR) 24.95
7. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 24.95

Preview
The fastest man in the prelims and the then-world leader for 2013, American David Plummer, was last in the semifinals after slipping at the start Saturday. That leaves Lacourt and Stravius, the co-2011 world champions in the 100 back, as the clear favorites. Grevers is looking to become the first man to sweep the 50 and 100 back at one world championships. Barnea hopes to be the first swimmer from Israel to win an Olympic or world swimming medal of any color.

Medal Picks
Gold: Stravius
Silver: Lacourt
Bronze: Grevers

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Final

Field
1. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 29.48 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.88
3. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.90
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.20
5. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.31
6. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 30.57
7. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.61
8. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.66

Preview
Efimova broke Hardy’s world record in Saturday morning’s heats. The Russian held it for all of eight hours until Meilutyte snatched it by three tenths in the semifinals. That made the order pretty clear going into the final of this non-Olympic event: Meilutyte-Efimova-Hardy. Larson was sixth at the Olympics in the 100 breast and fifth earlier at the Palau Sant Jordi. If either Hardy or Larson medal here, it means an American woman podiumed in every breaststroke event at these worlds, impressive given Rebecca Soni is taking the year off.

Medal Picks
Gold: Meilutyte
Silver: Efimova
Bronze: Hardy

Men’s 400 Individual Medley Final

Field
1. Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:11.87
2. Daiya Seto (JPN) 4:12.96
3. Tyler Clary (USA) 4:13.55
4. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 4:13.80
5. David Verraszto (HUN) 4:13.95
6. Daniel Wallace (GBR) 4:14.15
7. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 4:14.52
8. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 4:15.81

Preview
A U.S. man has won 11 of the last 13 world or Olympic titles in this grueling event — Tom DolanMichael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Lochte shaved this event from his program at trials, though he’s still the fastest American in the 400 IM in 2013. That leaves Clary, the two-time reigning world silver medalist, and Kalisz, 19, from Phelps’ North Baltimore Aquatic Club, to carry the torch. Kalisz waited a week to jump into the Palau Sant Jordi pool, this being his only event at worlds. Though he’s first into the final, the top three in the world this year are Seto, Hagino and Fraser-Holmes, all of whom have gone sub-4:11. Hagino’s world-leading time is 4:07.61, four seconds faster than Kalisz’s personal best. Hagino, 18, already has two silvers in Barcelona, and this is his sixth individual event.

Medal Picks
Gold: Hagino
Silver: Kalisz
Bronze: Seto

Women’s 50 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.19
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 24.33
3. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 24.54
4. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.61
5. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.62
6. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.65
7. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.85
8. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.91

Preview
Cate Campbell, the 100 free champ this week, is the clear favorite, a tenth faster than anyone this year. Kromowidjojo, the double Olympic champion in the 50 free and 100 free, is going for her fourth medal of worlds, but she has yet to win a gold. Ottesen Gray was the co-2011 world champion in the 100 and the 2013 world champ in the 50 butterfly. Halsall seeks Great Britain’s first medal of these worlds. Manuel, who turned 17 on Friday, set a personal best to make the final.

Medal Picks
Gold: Cate Campbell
Silver: Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Ottesen Gray

Men’s 1,500 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Sun Yang (CHN) 14:54.65
2. Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14:55.15
3. Connor Jaeger (USA) 14:56.62
4. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 14:57.15
5. Pal Joensen (FAR) 14:57.76
6. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 14:58.62
7. Michael McBroom (USA) 14:59.73
8. Daniel Fogg (GBR) 15:00.48

Preview
Sun is attempting to become the second man to sweep the distance freestyles (400, 800, 1,500) at a world championships, joining Australian Grant Hackett (2005). Though the qualifying times Saturday were close, he’s a heavy favorite here. Sun broke Hackett’s world record in winning the 2011 world title at age 19, then lowered it by another three seconds in winning the Olympics by a mind-blowing eight-second margin. His top time for 2013, set at Chinese nationals, is three seconds better than anyone else. The silver could go to Cochrane, the two-time reigning world silver medalist and 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Or, it could go to Jaeger, bronze medalist in the 400 free earlier in the meet. Paltrinieri and Harrison are outside medal threats, as is McBroom, the silver medalist in the 800.

Medal Picks
Gold: Sun
Silver: Cochrane
Bronze: Jaeger

Women’s 400 Individual Medley Final

Field
1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 4:32.72
2. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 4:34.64
3. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 4:34.93
3. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 4:34.93
5. Hannah Miley (GBR) 4:34.94
6. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 4:35.17
7. Maya DiRado (USA) 4:37.39
8. Miyu Otsuka (JPN) 4:37.77

Preview
Hosszu is favored to become the first woman since American Katie Hoff (2005, 2007) to sweep the individual medleys at a worlds. Ye swept the individual medleys at the Olympics, winning the 400 IM in world record time, but gained 11 pounds between London and Barcelona and fell to fourth in the 200 IM this week. She’s in the silver picture along with the crowd favorite Belmonte Garcia, who has a silver and a bronze at this meet already. Miley is the second fastest woman this year behind Hosszu. Beisel took silver to Ye in London.

Medal Picks
Gold: Hosszu
Silver: Belmonte Garcia
Bronze: Ye

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay Final

Field
1. United States 3:32.72
2. Australia 3:33.64
3. Russia 3:33.64
4. France 3:34.04
5. Japan 3:34.25
6. Italy 3:34.29
7. Hungary 3:34.64
8. Germany 3:34.91

Preview
Again, it should be the U.S. and Australia going one-two here. And, again, the Aussies will be done in by one poor leg. They didn’t have either of their swimmers make it out of the prelims in the 100-meter butterfly. If Lochte gets into the pool withing a half-second of Australia, it should be over. If he gives the U.S. freestyle anchor, likely Nathan Adrian, a half-second lead, that should be enough to hold off the 100-meter freestyle champion James Magnussen. Lochte’s only other time on this relay at a major international meet was at the 2007 world championships, where the U.S. was disqualified when Ian Crocker left the blocks .01 too soon on the third leg.

Medal Picks
Gold: U.S.
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Russia

Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay Final

Field
1. United States 3:58.66
2. Australia 3:58.73
3. China 3:59.39
4. Great Britain 4:00.04
5. Japan 4:00.18
6. Canada 4:00.34
7. Russia 4:00.69
8. Germany 4:01.30

Preview
The favored U.S. women could sweep the three relays for the first time at a worlds. They’ve got medalists in the 100 backstroke (Franklin, gold), 100 breaststroke (Hardy, bronze) and the 100 butterfly (Dana Vollmer, bronze) on the first three legs. However, Australia has medalists from the 100 back (Emily Seebohm, silver), 100 butterfly (Alicia Coutts, silver) and the 100 freestyle (Cate Campbell, gold). But the Aussies’ Achilles heel is the breaststroke, where they didn’t have anyone reach the 100-meter final. The Americans will need a solid two-second lead going into the final leg, but they should have it.

Medal Picks
Gold: U.S.
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Russia

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Jordan Wilimovsky qualifies for Tokyo Olympics in open-water swimming

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Open-water swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky is the first male athlete on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

Wilimovsky, who placed fourth and fifth in two distance events at the 2016 Rio Games, joined fellow open-water swimmers Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell in qualifying for Tokyo via the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Wilimovsky, 25, placed fifth in the 10km event on Tuesday. Anderson and Twichell were second and sixth in the women’s 10km on Sunday. Top-10 finishers at worlds qualified for Tokyo.

German Florian Wellbrock won by two tenths of a second over French Olympic bronze medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier after 1 hour, 47 minutes in the water. Wilimovsky led with 600 meters left. Olympic 1500m freestyle champion Gregorio Paltrinieri also qualified for Tokyo in the open-water 10km by finishing sixth.

The other American, David Heron, was 25th, missing the Olympic team, but he can try again in the 1500m free in the pool at the Olympic trials next June.

Wilimovsky missed a medal in the Rio Olympic 1500m in the pool by 4.17 seconds, taking fourth. Three days later, he was fifth in the open-water 10km, 1.2 seconds out of bronze.

Wilimovsky, a Malibu native who redshirted at Northwestern to train for Rio, earned gold and silver in the 10km at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

A U.S. man has never earned an Olympic open-water medal. The event debuted at Beijing 2008.

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Ted Ligety scales back race schedule

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Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety is scaling back his race schedule as he enters the final portion of his decorated Alpine skiing career.

Ligety, a 34-year-old who has endured many injuries since his last World Cup win in 2015, said he will race strictly giant slaloms this year. The World Cup season starts in late October.

“So it’ll be a little bit easier schedule on my body,” Ligety said in a KPCW radio interview in his native Park City, Utah. “I’ll be able to be home a little bit more as well, and then we see. I mean, I would like to keep going as long as I feel like I can win races and feel healthy. That’s really the biggest part, and nowadays I have a 2-year-old son, and there’s more factors than there was when I was 25 years old.”

Ligety, nicknamed “Mr. GS” for his giant slalom prowess, has a 2014 Olympic gold medal and three world titles in that event.

He also owns an Olympic combined title from 2006 and world titles in the super-G and combined from 2013, but he hasn’t won a race in one of those disciplines since January 2014. And since then, he has undergone back and knee surgeries and dealt with hip problems.

“There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it,” said Ligety, whose 321 World Cup starts are the most among active Olympic medalists now that Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal have retired. “Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.”

Ligety, a four-time Olympian, has not publicly committed to a 2022 Olympic run.

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