Ryan Lochte painfully beaten in Austin; Katie Ledecky wins



Ryan Lochte entered what they call the “decathlon of swimming” in competition Friday for the first time in 20 months.

It did not go well.

“I forgot how bad that event hurts,” Lochte told reporters at the Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas. “Right after the fly [the first 100 meters], I was like, I’m already in pain.”

Lochte, the Olympic champion in the event, finished in third place. He clocked 4 minutes, 18.68 seconds, which was 2.6 seconds behind winner Josh Prenot. (full meet results here)

Lochte was 13.5 seconds slower on Friday than he was in the London Olympic final, which isn’t shocking given swimmers don’t train to peak in January.

Lochte was also seven seconds slower than in his last 400m IM in competition, at the 2013 Santa Clara Grand Prix. In fact, that was Lochte’s only 400m IM since the London Olympics before Friday.

Since 2012, Lochte has been off-and-on about whether he will try to swim the 400m IM at the 2016 Olympics. He said in interviews shortly after the London Olympics that he couldn’t do longer-distance events in 2016 because of his age (he is older than Michael Phelps and will turn 32 two days before the Opening Ceremony).

Those comments were reminiscent of Phelps’ comments after the 2008 Olympics, when he ruled out the 400m IM entirely. Of course, Phelps went back on his word and swam the 400m IM in London, placing fourth.

Lochte opted not to swim the 400m IM at the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Championships. Instead, he swam a different event on the same day as the 400m IM at both meets — the 100m butterfly, which he’s never competed at an Olympics and is a Phelps trademark event.

Now, Lochte is already saying he will “definitely” swim the 400m IM at the next Pro Swim Series event in Orlando in February (coincidentally, he aggravated a knee injury in Orlando last February, setting him up for an injury-hampered season, perhaps a big reason why he didn’t swim the 400m IM, and, at the Pan Pacific Championships in August, his worst performance at a major international meet since 2006).

Phelps, who is suspended into April, has said in his comeback that he will not swim the 400m IM (again).

“It’s probably the hardest event in swimming, besides the mile,” Lochte said of the 400m IM on Friday. “I just started training like a week and a half ago. This meet is like a training meet. … Getting my butt kicked is always a good thing.”

In other events Friday, Katie Ledecky won the 200m freestyle in 1:56.16, which was one second slower than her personal best set at the 2014 U.S. Championships. Again, not bad at all for a January meet. Ledecky also swept the 100m and 400m frees Thursday.

The world’s best all-around swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, was surprisingly off Friday. She finished third in the 400m IM, where she is the reigning World champion. U.S. Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel beat Hosszu by 3.22 seconds there.

Hosszu, a Hungarian, was also sixth in the 200m backstroke, won by Dominique Bouchard by .07 over Beisel.

Conor Dwyer, who isn’t swimming for North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Austin, won the men’s 200m free. Ryan Murphy beat Olympic 100m back champion Matt Grevers in the men’s 200m back.

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus outdueled the U.S.’ best sprinters — Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin, Cullen Jones and Jimmy Feigen — to win the 50m free.

The meet concludes Saturday.

Katie Ledecky and the 100m freestyle


Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time


Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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