Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps shares victory in Santa Clara

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Michael Phelps notched a first-place tie and a runner-up at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on Friday night, the first time he has swum multiple finals in one session since the London Olympics.

Phelps, in his third meet this spring after sitting out 20 months, shared a 100m butterfly victory with Tom Shields in 52.11 seconds. He also finished second to the Olympic champion in the 100m freestyle.

“With having a double like that, I’m pleased,” Phelps said. “It’s still kind of frustrating. I did want to break 52.”

The women’s headliner of the meet, Missy Franklin, finished second in her only final Friday, the 100m free.

Phelps is scheduled to swim the 200m free Saturday and the 200m individual medley Sunday.

U.S. swimmers are preparing for the National Championships in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10, a selection meet for the biggest international meets the next two seasons, the Pan Pacific Championships later in August in Gold Coast, Australia, and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Phelps came from behind over the final 25 meters in the 100m fly, as is his custom, but couldn’t quite out-touch Shields. Their time, 52.11, is second behind Ryan Lochte among Americans this year. Lochte is not swimming in Santa Clara after aggravating a major knee injury earlier this spring.

Phelps swam the 100m fly in 52.13 seconds in Mesa, Ariz., in April and in Charlotte, N.C., in May. He clearly has some domestic competition in the 100m fly, an event he won at the last three Olympics.

Earlier, Phelps clocked 48.80 seconds in the 100m free, behind only Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, who won easily in 48.17. Olympic 200m free champion Yannick Agnel, a training partner of Phelps, was fifth in 49.94.

Phelps’ time put him No. 23 in the world in the event, according to FINA, and second among Americans, behind only Adrian. He’s in great shape to be part of the four-man 4x100m free relay at the Pan Pacific Championships in August, if he so chooses.

Phelps clocked 49.99 in the morning prelims, swimming the 100m free for the first time since he was the second leg in the London Olympic 4x100m free relay.

“Happier about the 100m free than I am the 100m fly,” Phelps said. “Even though, technically, I guess you could say that’s better than what I’ve been in Mesa and in Charlotte, but [coach] Bob [Bowman] and I are both kind of annoyed about going 52.1. It’s the third time we’ve done it this year. So we’d like to make a bigger breakthrough than just taking two one hundredths off of it.”

Franklin, in her only Grand Prix meet this season, took second to World Championships teammate Simone Manuel in the 100m free. Manuel clocked 54.44. She’s the fastest American this year, followed by Allison Schmitt and then Franklin, who swam 54.51.

Franklin is slated to swim four more events in Santa Clara, the 200m backstroke (Saturday), 200m free (Saturday), 100m back (Sunday) and 200m individual medley (Sunday).

Also Friday, Katie Ledecky won a 400m free in Texas in 4:03.09, the fastest time in the world this year by .75. Ledecky, 17 and the reigning female World Swimmer of the Year, broke her 1500m free world record Thursday.

In other Santa Clara events, reigning U.S. champion Kevin Cordes won the 200m breaststroke in 2:11.82, making him the fastest American this year. World bronze medalist Micah Lawrence won the women’s 200m breast in 2:26.53, two seconds slower than her U.S.-leading time at the Charlotte Grand Prix last month.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the women’s 400m free in 4:06.83, which was 3.74 seconds slower than Ledecky in Texas. World bronze medalist Connor Jaeger took the men’s 400m free in 3:47.98, .91 faster than his U.S.-leading time from Charlotte.

Felicia Lee captured the women’s 100m fly in 59.62. She’s the No. 3 American this year.

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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