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Michael Phelps wins at Winter Nationals, eyes changing diapers

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Michael Phelps breezed to a victory at the U.S. Winter Nationals on Thursday night, but he knows more unfamiliar and perhaps more difficult tasks lie ahead.

Such as changing diapers.

“There are many things that could happen while changing a diaper, so if I can get in and get out safely, that’s all that matters,” Phelps joked in an interview with Carolyn Manno after winning the 200m individual medley in Federal Way, Wash.

Phelps, the 22-time Olympic medalist, is competing for the first time since he and fiancée Nicole Johnson announced they are expecting a baby.

Johnson was in attendance Thursday night to watch a clean-shaven Phelps prevail in 1:57.61, which is 1.69 seconds faster than his time at a meet in Minneapolis three weeks ago when he raced with a full beard.

Training partner Chase Kalisz was second in 1:58.77. World champion Ryan Lochte is not competing in Federal Way. Full Thursday results are here.

“The time was fine,” Phelps, who owns the fastest time in the world this year at 1:54.75 from August, told Manno. “The biggest thing is just being able to move forward throughout the season to really, hopefully set up a good time for Olympic trials [in late June/early July].”

Winter Nationals run through Saturday and will be streamed live the next two days on USASwimming.org/Nationals. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage Sunday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET.

In other events Thursday, longtime Phelps training partner Allison Schmitt swam her fastest 400m freestyle since she captured a 2012 Olympic silver medal in the event.

Schmitt, who failed to make this year’s World Championships team, touched in 4:06.88, ranking her third among Americans this year behind World champion Katie Ledecky (3:59.13) and Leah Smith (4:04.66). Neither Ledecky nor Smith is swimming at this weekend’s meet.

The top two at the U.S. Olympic trials on June 27 make the Rio Olympic team. Ledecky appears to be a lock for one of the berths.

Favorites Nathan Adrian and Simone Manuel swept the 50m freestyles Thursday. Neither bettered their nation-leading times from earlier this year. Missy Franklin clocked the 11th fastest time overall in the women’s 50m free, an event in which she’s not expected to vie for an Olympic spot.

Olympian Conor Dwyer took the men’s 400m free in 3:48.11, which was not an improvement on his best time this year. Connor Jaeger is the fastest American in the event for 2015 at 3:44.81. Dwyer is ranked No. 5.

In the women’s 200m IM, Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz was out-touched by Maya DiRado, 2:11.10 to 2:11.79. DiRado, the World silver medalist in the 400m IM, is ranked No. 4 in the world this year in the 200m IM and looking to make her first Olympic team next year.

MORE SWIMMING: Phelps, Ledecky win Golden Goggles for Athlete of the Year

Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

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When Nathan Chen won Skate America in 2017, he competed two quadruple jumps in the short program and one downgraded quad in the free skate.

When Chen won the event in 2018, he did one under-rotated quad (which was also given an edge call) in the short and three in the free.

For Skate America this weekend (Oct. 18-20, streaming live on the NBC Sports “Figure Skating Pass”), two-time and reigning world champion Chen told reporters on Monday’s media teleconference that three quads in the free skate was “a given.”

“Honestly, I don’t really know exactly,” Chen said, after admitting he gets asked this question a lot and usually ends up giving a “vague” answer. “I have ideas. I want to push three. I want to push four… As of now, I think three is a given. But beyond that, we’ll see.”

Chen completed six quads to win the free skate at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where he ultimately finished fifth.

He’ll skate to La Boheme for the short program in Las Vegas, choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, and selections from “Rocket Man” for the free skate, choreographed by Marie-France Dubreuil. Bourne is a former ice dancer and choreographs programs for many singles skaters as well as pair teams. Dubreuil is a noted former ice dancer and current dance coach, training the top teams in the world at her school in Montreal.

Chen explained that both of the choices were the choreographers’ picks, and he had to sit on the music for a day or two before committing to skating to it. Ultimately, he likes when choreographers are able to find something that they think suits him.

“I love to listen to Elton John,” Chen said. “I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m an embodiment of his character, per se. But I do feel that no matter how you listen to music there are always many ways to interpret it. The way that we’re approaching it is not necessarily that I’m trying to be Elton John but mostly that we’re trying to interpret his music and share his music.”

And compared to last season, when he was a freshman at Yale University, classes this time around are “a lot harder,” the sophomore said. In general though, he’s a lot more comfortable trying to balance both skating and his studies.

“Skating is always tough, always a challenge,” he said. “But I would say, relative to last season, skating might be a little bit on the easier side. I think classes are definitely a lot harder… You have to really grind for a long period of time or else you don’t do well.”

Luckily for Chen, Skate America is aligned with Yale’s scheduled fall break.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Simone Biles reveals one thing she cannot do: Wear all her medals at once

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Three days after raising the record for world championship medals to 25, Simone Biles said her career total is a bit too much to wear at once.

“I’ve worn all five of them (from one world championship) for one time, but they’re pretty heavy, so I can’t imagine 25,” Biles said Wednesday on the “Today” show.

MORE: Mother and daughter share world championship experience

Last week, Biles became the first gymnast to win five gold medals at the world championships. She and her teammates ran away with the team gold, and she won the all-around by a staggering 2.1 points. She then won the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Only a fifth-place finish in the uneven bars kept her from a sweep.

One event that stood out for her was the ever-challenging balance beam.

“Out of all of my performances this past week, the beam performance was one of my favorites, because I did it exactly like practice, and that’s what I’ve been training to do,” Biles said. “So it definitely helped my confidence.”

GYM WORLDS: Finals Results

Biles had her breakout performance at age 18, her first year in senior competition, in the 2013 world championships with a four-medal performance, including gold in the all-around and floor exercise. In 2014, she won those events again, along with the team event and the balance beam, and added a fifth medal on the vault. She matched that performance in 2015, then switched the vault and beam in her four-gold, five-medal performance in the 2016 Olympics.

After a post-Olympic break, she returned for the 2018 world championships to win medals in all six events, including four golds and a silver on the uneven bars, historically her least successful event.

She didn’t win six medals this year, but she took five golds for the first time. This year’s championships are also special because they’re almost certainly her last, with next year’s Olympics expected to be her last major competition.

Given all that, she’ll make more of an effort to go back and watch what she did.

“Most of the time I don’t want to see it, but this world championships was one of the best out of all five of them, so I definitely wanted to see my performances, so afterward, I would go and try to find it with my coach,” Biles said.

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