Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin finish Santa Clara meet with differing results

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Michael Phelps won two of his five events at a Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara, Calif., this weekend, capping the competition with a 200m individual medley victory Sunday.

Missy Franklin went winless in five events in her first meet since the NCAA Championships in March.

Santa Clara marked the biggest meet between now and the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, that start Aug. 2. Phelps will not swim at the World Championships as part of punishment for his September DUI arrest.

On Sunday, Phelps won the 200m individual medley in 1:59.39, his fastest time in that event this year and ranking 18th fastest in the world for 2015. Phelps, the three-time reigning Olympic 200m IM champion, swam it in 1:56.04 in 2014 to rank third in the world.

Phelps also finished ninth in the nine-man 200m backstroke, an event he rarely swims at the international level. Rising California junior Ryan Murphy won that race in 1:57.06, adding to his 100m back victory Saturday.

Phelps won the 200m butterfly on Saturday to snap a six-race winless streak. In his last meet in Charlotte in May, Phelps finished no better than third in all of his races for the first time since the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

“I’m happy where I am now,” Phelps told media in Santa Clara. “I’m happy I’m finishing races like I have.”

Phelps said he will head to Colorado for altitude training on Monday for three weeks and next compete in a smaller meet in July before he heads to the U.S. Championships in San Antonio, Aug. 6-10.

Franklin, a four-time 2012 Olympic champion, placed third in the 200m backstroke and sixth in the 100m freestyle Sunday. She had finished third in the 100m back Saturday and third in the 200m freestyle and eighth in the 50m back Friday.

“A lot of mixed feelings,” said Franklin, who doesn’t think she will compete again before Worlds. “I haven’t raced this tired in a long time [due to hard training] … All my strokes felt really strong and powerful. There just wasn’t a whole lot of speed there, which, I guess, is right where I want to be right now going into Worlds.”

Franklin was beaten in both backstrokes by Hungary’s FINA Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu, who capped a five-win meet with 200m IM and 200m back victories Sunday.

Hosszu, nicknamed the “Iron Lady” for her heavy workloads, won 14 of her 21 races over the last three Pro Swim Series meets in Mesa, Ariz., Charlotte, N.C., and Santa Clara, setting her up well for the World Championships.

The Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk followed her 200m free win Friday by taking the 100m free Sunday in 53.64. Heemskerk and Australian Cate Campbell are the only women to break 53 seconds this year, both going 52.69 in April.

World silver medalist Lotte Friis of Denmark won the women’s 800m free in 8:25.33, well off Olympic and World champion Katie Ledecky‘s 8:11.21 from January. Nobody has been within 10 seconds of Ledecky’s best time this year.

Dana Vollmer not retired, returns to practice after childbirth

Emily Sisson a U.S. Olympic marathon trials favorite, thanks to Ireland

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Emily Sisson didn’t think she would become a professional runner until her last year of college. Now, at 28, she goes into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials as a contender for one of three Tokyo spots, if not the overall favorite.

“I’ve only done one marathon, so I definitely don’t feel like I’m an experienced marathoner,” Sisson said by phone last week from her Arizona base. “That’s the one question mark I’ve had all build-up.”

Predicting a marathon can be a crapshoot, but a Podiumrunner.com experts panel pegged Sisson to win. She is younger than any female U.S. Olympic marathoner since Anne Marie Lauck in 1996 (though fellow contender Jordan Hasay is a month younger).

Confidence stems from last April 28. Sisson clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow. She finished sixth — behind five East Africans. She crossed 3:25 ahead of sometimes training partner and mentor Molly Huddle, also a headliner at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We wanted to run faster,” Sisson said that day in London. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Sisson later mentioned a pre-race scare on the “Keeping Track” podcast. She tripped over a carpet jogging back from a bathroom, banged both knees 15 minutes before the start and got checked out physically by a chiropractor and mentally by her husband, who has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Sisson then covered the final half of that marathon alone, a foreign feeling for the longtime track runner. At one point, she thought about having never before run more than 23 miles.

Her mind could have also wandered to sports memories that led her to the world’s strongest marathon: Attending a 1999 Women’s World Cup match and seeing her hero, Mia Hamm. As a soccer-playing teenager, being asked by a friend to join a track relay team. Or being told during a record-breaking high school career that she was reminiscent of 2004 Olympic marathoner Jen Rhines.

Sisson, whose dad ran and mom did gymnastics at the University of Wisconsin, transferred after one year in Madison to Providence. She had a best NCAA Championships finish of fourth going into her last year. Before that final season, Sisson was prepared to leave competitive running once her NCAA eligibility exhausted in pursuit of an MBA.

“I had been going through a bit of a funk with running,” she said. “I was getting a little tired.”

Things changed the summer before her senior year. She vacationed with then-boyfriend/now-husband Shane Quinn, a fellow Providence runner, in Quinn’s native Ireland. At one point, they altered training, ditching tempo runs for local road races. Sisson never before competed on the roads. She doesn’t remember the distances being exact. She does remember winning.

“That was a new, fun thing that kept the sport kind of fresh for me,” she said. “You finish, and you go into a local pub and have sandwiches.”

Providence coach Ray Treacy put Sisson in more road races that fall. The opportunity was right. She had no cross-country eligibility left while she readied for the winter and spring track seasons. She went on to win the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5000m, a springboard to the pros (while still going after the MBA).

Sisson was set back by injury in 2016 and placed 10th in the Olympic trials 10,000m. She kept training under Treacy, and perhaps just as important, with Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000m. Huddle, seven years older than Sisson, made her marathon debut after the Rio Olympics.

“Emily really looks up to her and is inspired by her,” Treacy said. “Molly has helped her out in numerous ways in training. … Making sure she’s not going overboard with the training, not running too fast. She kind of keeps her under control.”

Sisson made the last two world championships teams in the 10,000m, but Treacy thought marathon since 2015. They signed her up for the 2019 London Marathon, in part because Huddle was going to race it as her third career 26.2-miler. And in part to get Sisson ready for the Olympic trials in 10 months’ time.

The build-up was better than ideal. Sisson ran the second-fastest half marathon in U.S. history (on a record-eligible course) in January. She became the third-fastest U.S. woman all-time at 10,000m in March.

Come April, Treacy was impressed again just by watching Sisson after she crossed the London finish line in what would be the second-fastest marathon for a U.S. woman in 2019.

“It didn’t look like it took anything out of her,” Treacy said. “She recovered really fast. Within minutes, she was feeling pretty good. That was a good sign.”

Sisson returned home to Quinn and their golden retriever, Desmond, who has 1,400 Instagram followers. She skipped a fall marathon to compete in the 10,000m at track worlds in Doha, placing a respectable 10th.

The recent marathon build-up for trials went just as well, if not better, than the training for London.

“I’m definitely putting a bit of pressure on myself with this one,” Sisson said. “But at the same time, I don’t get caught up in so much what other people say. I don’t really read the articles about who’s the favorite or what chance you have of making the team.”

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Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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