Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte
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Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky set for Minneapolis duels

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Michael Phelps qualified for one top final and missed another in his first events at a Pro Swim Series meet in Minneapolis on Thursday morning.

Phelps, competing for the first time since he won three events at the U.S. Championships in August, finished tied for fourth overall in the 100m butterfly prelims in 53.70 seconds at the University of Minnesota.

He made the top eight-man final (7:37 p.m. ET, USASwimming.org) along with Ryan Lochte, the second-fastest in the morning at 53.27.

Phelps was 10th overall in prelims in his other event Thursday, the 200m freestyle, which he hasn’t been focusing on in his comeback from a 20-month competitive retirement following the London Olympics. Lochte was third in qualifying in the 200m free, making the top eight-man final (7:11 p.m.).

Phelps was .18 faster in the 100m butterfly prelims Thursday than at this same meet in November 2011. He was .99 slower in the 200m free prelims than in 2011.

Phelps and Lochte could face off in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle later in the Olympic season-opening meet that runs through Saturday.

In women’s events, Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin were the first and third seeds, respectively, into the top 200m freestyle final (7:03 p.m.). Olympic 200m free champion Allison Schmitt qualified fourth.

Ledecky later beat both 2012 U.S. Olympians in the 400m individual medley (Elizabeth BeiselCaitlin Leverenz) in her preliminary heat in that race but was touched out by Becca Mann.

Ledecky has said she may swim the grueling 400m IM at the Olympic trials, in addition to her trademark freestyle events. She’s the No. 2 seed going into the final (7:47 p.m.) behind Mann. Beisel also made the top final, as did Maya DiRado, the World silver medalist in the event.

Olympic champion Dana Vollmer was the second-fastest qualifier into the top 100m butterfly final, .19 behind Kelsi Worrell. Worrell is the fastest American in the event this year, while Vollmer is coming back after having a baby boy March 6.

MORE: Phelps touched by reaction to SI story

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Caitlin Leverenz made the top eight-woman 400m individual final. She was ninth in qualifying, according to SwimmingWorld.

Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

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