Katie Ledecky stars on opening night in Minneapolis

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky outdueled Missy Franklin to win the 200m freestyle and, 45 minutes later, chopped 2.52 seconds off her 400m individual medley personal best at a Pro Swim Series meet in Minneapolis on Thursday night.

Michael PhelpsRyan Lochte and Missy Franklin all racked up top-three finishes but zero victories on the first night of the Olympic season-opening domestic meet. Full results are here.

The meet continues through Saturday, with finals at 7 p.m. ET live on USASwimming.org.

Phelps, in his first meet since winning three races at the U.S. Championships in August, finished third in the 100m butterfly in 52.99 seconds, .42 behind winner Giles Smith. Phelps, a three-time Olympic 100m fly champion, clocked a winning 52.26 in this same meet in November 2011.

Phelps, who raced with a thick black beard, said he made a mistake eating banana bread before the race.

“I had a couple pieces come up the last 50,” he told media in Minneapolis, smiling. “I thought about shaving, but I didn’t really want to. I’ve shaved once since Nationals.”

Phelps also finished 10th overall in the 200m freestyle in 1:50.39. In 2011, he won this event in Minneapolis in 1:46.88.

Phelps hasn’t been focusing on the 200m free in his comeback from a 20-month competitive retirement following the 2012 Olympics but may want to post a time to make him eligible for the 4x200m free relay at the Rio Olympics. He came to Minneapolis ranked 17th in the U.S. in the 200m free this year and did not improve on his best time of 2015.

Phelps said a main objective is to better his times with every meet in the run-up to the Olympic trials.

“If I can really, finally take what I do here and transition it into meeet by meet by meet,” he said. “That’s something that I failed at last [season]. … I’m old now, and I get tired a lot faster.”

Lochte, who came back from injuries to win his fourth straight World title in the 200m individual medley on Aug. 6, finished second to Conor Dwyer in the 200m free on Thursday and was disqualified from the 100m butterfly final for a false start after qualifying with the second-fastest time.

“The official came over to me [after the race], and he was like, Ryan, you’re disqualified,” Lochte told media in Minneapolis. “I was like, all right. He could have told me that before the race started so I didn’t have to go through that pain.”

In the women’s 200m free, Ledecky and Franklin went one-two, followed by Olympic champion Allison Schmitt. Ledecky won in 1:55.37, a comfortable 1.36 seconds ahead of Franklin.

Ledecky’s time was .21 slower than her World title-winning time Aug. 5, which is impressive because swimmers train to peak for Worlds but certainly not for November meets.

Ledecky came back 45 minutes later for the 400m individual medley, an event she doesn’t regularly swim but said in August she was considering adding to her Olympic trials schedule and stayed coy about Thursday. She finished third in 4:39.18, behind Becca Mann and Olympian Caitlin Leverenz.

Ledecky’s previous personal best in the 400m IM was 4:41.70, which was ranked No. 9 in the U.S. this year. She improved to sixth in the U.S. this year with that finish. The top two at the Olympic trials in June make the Olympic team in the event.

In the women’s 100m butterfly, Kelsi Worrell edged Olympic champion Dana Vollmer by .16. Worrell is the fastest U.S. woman in the event this year, and Vollmer is now No. 4. Vollmer, 27, is coming back after having a baby boy March 6.

MORE: Missy Franklin embraces ‘disappointments’ going into Olympic season

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

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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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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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