Katie Ledecky breaks world record; Phelps beats Lochte in Austin

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Katie Ledecky broke the 800m freestyle world record for the fourth time in as many years, clocking 8:06.68 in Austin, Texas, on Sunday night.

“I kind of knew from the start if I put together a good swim and swam it the right way that I could have a pretty good swim,” Ledecky, who exuberantly splashed in her lane after seeing her time, said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “Every race is different, every world record has some sort of meaning.”

Ledecky, 18, first lowered the 800m free world record of 8:14.10 set by Rebecca Adlington at the Beijing 2008 Olympics on Aug. 3, 2013, when she won the World Championship in 8:13.86.

Ledecky later broke the record on June 22, 2014 and on Aug. 8, when she repeated as World champion in 8:07.39.

Her world record Sunday marked the 11th in her career in a long-course meters event.

Ledecky, who won the 2012 Olympic 800m free as the youngest member of the U.S. delegation of more than 500 athletes, owns the 400m, 800m and 1500m free world records.

She is the reigning World champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees.

In Rio, Ledecky could become the second U.S. woman to swim the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m frees at one Olympics, if she finishes in the top two in each event at the June/July Olympic trials in Omaha. The women’s 1500m free is not on the Olympic program.

Including relays, Ledecky could also challenge the records for most gold medals won by a woman at a single Olympics (six by East German swimmer Kristin Otto at Seoul 1988; the U.S. record is four by Missy Franklin and Amy Van Dyken).

Also in Austin, Ledecky set personal bests in the 100m and 200m freestyles and won the 400m free with the fifth-fastest time of all time.

“The 400 is my sweet spot,” Ledecky told media in Austin. “It’s probably what I train for the most, and then I’m able to go up and down from it.”

Earlier Sunday, Michael Phelps notched another first in his comeback, beating Ryan Lochte in a 200m IM final for the first time since the London Olympics. Full Austin meet results are here.

Phelps, who came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April 2014, topped Lochte in the event by clocking 1:58.00 to his rival’s 1:58.43.

“I can look back throughout my career and say he’s probably the one who has really brought the most out of me,” Phelps told media in Austin. “I’ve had a lot of people that I’ve raced and, I guess I have a history with, but I think with Ryan it’s something special. We’ve been racing since 2004.”

Phelps and Lochte had competed in the 200m IM in four meets since Phelps’ comeback going into Austin — with Lochte clocking a faster time in every one of those meets.

The 200m IM is the staple of the Phelps-Lochte rivalry. Phelps has won the last three Olympic 200m IM titles, with Lochte joining him on the podium each time. Lochte has won the last four World titles.

Phelps swam the fastest time in the world in 2015 — 1:54.75 — at the U.S. Championships, after Lochte took the World Championship in 1:55.81, the second-fastest in the world in 2015, three days earlier.

Lochte is the world-record holder, thanks to his 1:54.00 at the 2011 World Championships.

Earlier Sunday, Franklin took second in the 100m backstroke behind Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who won the 200m individual medley about 15 minutes later.

Franklin also finished sixth in the 100m free on Friday and third in the 200m free and 200m back on Saturday.

Olympic champion Matt Grevers prevailed in a 100m back final that included the three fastest U.S. men in the event in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Grevers prevailed in 53.35, followed by Ryan Murphy in 53.46 and David Plummer in 53.50.

That trio is expected to vie for two Olympic spots at the trials on June 28, possibly along with Olympic silver medalist Nick Thoman.

The Pro Swim Series continues March 3-5 in Orlando.

MORE SWIMMING: Ledecky looks like Olympic contender in 100m free

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated no U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics.

Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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