World Swimming Championships women’s preview

Katie Ledecky
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It’s Katie Ledecky‘s turn to headline a World Swimming Championships.

In 2009, Michael Phelps won a meet-leading five gold medals at the World Championships in Rome.

In 2011, Ryan Lochte won a meet-leading five gold medals at the World Championships in Shanghai.

In 2013, Missy Franklin won a meet-leading six gold medals at the World Championships in Barcelona.

Ledecky, the youngest member of U.S. swimming’s big four, will win more individual titles next week in Kazan, Russia, than any other swimmer if the last two years’ rankings hold true.

She plans to swim four individual events and one relay, a slate of distances ranging from 200m to the grueling 1500m freestyle. The 200m freestyle semifinals and the 1500m free final are separated by about 20 minutes, a double arguably more daunting than anything seen before from Phelps, Lochte or Franklin at a major international meet.

Worlds broadcast schedule | Daily schedule of events | Entry lists | Men’s preview

Ledecky, an 18-year-old who graduated from a D.C.-area Catholic all-girls school on June 4, is scheduled to swim each of the first seven days of the eight-day meet. On Sunday, Aug. 9, the final day, she will rest.

She’s the world-record holder in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles (finals this Sunday (400m), then Tuesday (1500m) and then Saturday (800m)).

Ledecky swept those three events at the 2013 World Championships, one year after she took Olympic gold in her only event in London, the 800m free, as the youngest member of the entire U.S. Olympic team of more than 500 athletes.

She has since grown to dominate the distance freestyles so much that she added the 200m free to her program in 2014. How did that go? Ledecky was the second fastest woman in the world in the event last year behind Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, who is not swimming the 200m free in Kazan next week.

If Ledecky sweeps the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, she will become the first woman to win four individual golds at a single World Championships. The only men to do so? Phelps and Lochte.

“It’s going to be a busy week for me, but I’m just excited for the challenge,” Ledecky told media in Kazan on Friday.

Ledecky eyes daunting double at Worlds

Franklin, meanwhile, is a bit of a question despite being a tested and proven swimmer at major meets (four golds at the 2012 Olympics, six golds at the 2013 Worlds). She needed help walking following back spasms two days before last year’s major international meet, the Pan Pacific Championships, and came home with one individual medal (bronze).

Though Franklin hasn’t had back flare-ups at competitions since, her form going into Worlds is a little unclear. She’s raced in one meet since the NCAA Championships in March. Her FINA world rankings in her four individual events the last two years (keeping in mind last season’s back spasms and this year’s lack of racing long-course meters):

Event 2014 World Ranking 2015 World Ranking
100 Freestyle T6 105
200 Freestyle 8 13
100 Backstroke 4 31
200 Backstroke 6 18

 

Franklin remained confident in interviews at her only meet this spring or summer, in June in Santa Clara, Calif. She’s returned to her longtime Colorado coach, Todd Schmitz, since turning professional.

“We don’t really know quite what to expect, but when you think about how many times we’ve swam these races and the experience we got on previous trips and hold on to that confidence and know that we know what we’re doing,” Franklin told media in Kazan on Friday.

Missy Franklin on her dream relay, unusual autographs, ‘the worm’

Ledecky and Franklin were the only U.S. women to earn individual golds at 2013 Worlds. Again, there might not be any others this year.

Across all Worlds events, only one other U.S. woman owns a top-three world ranking either of the last two years — Jessica Hardy was second in 2014 in the 50m breaststroke, which is not contested at the Olympics.

Granted this year, U.S. swimmers haven’t needed to post fast times in competition before going to Kazan, because the U.S. team for Worlds was determined in 2014. Americans could have spent all year in heavy training, while many swimmers from other nations needed to peak in competition in the spring for Worlds qualifying meets.

One swimmer who has been on fire this year is Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, the 2013 World champion in the 200m and 400m individual medleys. Hosszu, nicknamed “Iron Lady” for her Ripken-like durability while swimming several events in three- and four-day meets, could show up in seven individual events in Kazan.

Hosszu is world No. 1 in the 200m medley the last two years, No. 1 in the 400m medley this year and No. 2 last year, No. 2 in the 200m back this year and No. 3 in the 100m back last year.

Hosszu is set for showdowns with China’s Ye Shiwen in the individual medleys in Kazan. Ye was the 16-year-old who broke the Olympic record in both medleys at London 2012, including the 400m IM world record by swimming the final 50 meters faster than Lochte did in the men’s race.

Katinka Hosszu emerges from depression to become swimming’s Iron Lady

In other events, the favorites are Australian Cate Campbell and the Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk in the sprint freestyles, Australian Emily Seebohm in the backstrokes (if recovered from May’s dislocated kneecap), Lithuanian breaststroker Ruta Meilutyte and the Swede Sjostrom in the sprint freestyles and butterflies.

Key women’s finals:

Sunday, Aug. 2
400m freestyle — Ledecky is the world-record holder
4x100m freestyle relay — Australia vs. USA vs. Netherlands, who have traded Olympic and World titles since 2003

Monday, Aug. 3
100m butterfly — Sjostrom is the defending champion and world-record holder; Olympic champion Dana Vollmer is not competing at Worlds after having a baby
200m individual medley — Hosszu was fastest in the world in 2013, 2014 and 2015, but Ye lurks

Tuesday, Aug. 4
100m backstroke — Franklin is the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World champion, but Seebohm has been world No. 1 the last two years
1500m freestyle — Ledecky is 14 seconds faster than anyone else this year
100m breaststroke — Meilutyte is the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World champion and world-record holder

Wednesday, Aug. 5
200m freestyle — Ledecky and Franklin’s only shared individual event

Thursday, Aug. 6
200m butterfly — Missing the reigning Olympic and World gold and silver medalists
4x200m freestyle relay — Ledecky and Franklin expected to lead U.S.

Friday, Aug. 7
100m freestyle — Franklin is not a medal favorite, behind Australia’s Campbell sisters, Sjostrom and Heemskerk
200m breaststroke — Defending champ Russian Yulia Efimova is back from a doping ban

Saturday, Aug. 8
200m backstroke — Franklin is the Olympic and World champion and world-record holder, but Seebohm is top seed
800m freestyle — Ledecky’s fourth and final individual event

Sunday, Aug. 9
50m freestyle — Campbell looks to dethrone Dutch Olympic and World champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo
400m individual medley — Hosszu vs. Ye II
4x100m medley relay — U.S. has won six of last seven World titles

Mark Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships TV, live stream schedule

U.S. Figure Skating Championships
U.S. Figure Skating
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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, in some ways marking a new era in the sport, air live from San Jose, California, on NBC Sports, USA Network and Peacock.

After last February’s Olympics, U.S. figure skating saw its greatest turnover from one season to the next in more than 20 years.

Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, the top two men last season, are not competing this season and may be done altogether. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell, the top two women, retired. As did the top ice dance couple of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, last year’s national pairs’ champions, also left the sport.

So, for the first time since 1993, the U.S. Championships feature a reigning national champion in just one of the four disciplines.

Amid all that, U.S. skaters performed well in the fall Grand Prix Series and made the podium in all four disciplines at December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time. Note the absence of Russian skaters, banned from international events due to the war in Ukraine.

At nationals, skaters are vying for spots on the team — three per discipline — for March’s world championships in Japan.

Ilia Malinin, an 18-year-old from Virginia, is the headliner after becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel, doing so at all four of his events this season. He ranks second in the world by best total score, a whopping 38.28 points ahead of the next American (Camden Pulkinen).

Jason Brown is the lone Olympian in the men’s field, competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Games.

Isabeau Levito, 15 and a reigning world junior champion like Malinin, took silver at the Grand Prix Final against the world’s other top skaters. She enters nationals with a best score this season 18.13 points better than the next American, Amber Glenn. Bradie Tennell, a 2018 Olympian coming back from foot and ankle injuries, is also a threat to gain one of the three women’s spots at worlds.

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the lone defending national champions and will likely make the podium for an 11th consecutive year, which would be one shy of the record.

Bates, who last year at 32 became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 12 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that a 13th finish in the top three would break the U.S. record for a single discipline he currently shares with Michelle Kwan, Nathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.

In pairs, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier return after missing nationals last year due to Frazier contracting COVID-19 the week of the event. Since, they posted the best U.S. pairs’ finish at an Olympics in 20 years, the first world title for a U.S. pair in 43 years and the first Grand Prix Final medal ever for a U.S. pair.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Live Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Thursday Pairs’ Short Program 3:30-5:45 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Rhythm Dance 6:30-9 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Rhythm Dance 7-9 p.m. USA Network | STREAM LINK
Women’s Short Program 9:10 p.m.-12 a.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Women’s Short Program 10 p.m.-12 a.m. USA Network | STREAM LINK
Friday Men’s Short Program 4:10-7 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Men’s Short Program 5-7 p.m. USA Network
Women’s Free Skate 7:45-11 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Free Skate 8-11 p.m. NBC
Saturday Free Dance 1:45-4:30 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Free Dance 2:30-4:30 p.m. NBC
Pairs’ Free Skate 7:30-10 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Pairs’ Free Skate 8-10 p.m. USA Network
Sunday Men’s Free Skate 2:30-6 p.m. Peacock
Men’s Free Skate 3-6 p.m. NBC

*All NBC and USA Network broadcasts also stream on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

Peter Sagan to retire from road cycling, eyes mountain bike at 2024 Paris Olympics

Peter Sagan
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Peter Sagan said 2023 will be his final year as a professional road cyclist and that he will target the 2024 Olympics in mountain bike.

The Slovakian made the announcement on his 33rd birthday in a social media video. He said he made the decision “quite some time ago.”

“I always said I would like to finish my career on the mountain bike, because I started my career on the mountain bike,” Sagan said in a press conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It gives me some pleasure at the end of my career because I’m doing something I really enjoy.

“It’s important for me to spend time with my son Marlon and to see life from different angles, and not just as a cyclist. It was never my dream to race or to be a professional rider until 40 or 50. I think it’s time now. And if I am going to be able to finish my career in Paris at the Olympics Games, that’s going to be something nice for me.”

Sagan is a record seven-time Tour de France green jersey champion as best sprinter. He has 12 individual stage wins (the last in 2019), second-most among active riders behind Mark Cavendish‘s record-tying 34.

At the Olympics, Sagan was 34th in the road race in 2012 and 35th in the mountain bike in 2016. He missed the Tokyo Games after surgery to treat an infection in his right knee stemming from a 2021 Tour de France crash.

Sagan won the world junior title in mountain biking at age 18 in 2008 before his road racing career, which included three consecutive world road race titles from 2015-17.

Of qualifying for Paris in the mountain bike, he said, “We’ll see whether it is even possible, but I think it can be another nice adventure.”

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