Dana Vollmer shakes up 100m freestyle; Ryan Lochte’s big question

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Three thoughts off Sunday’s finals at swim meets in Charlotte and Atlanta:

1. Dana Vollmer shakes up 100m freestyle

Vollmer continues to amaze in her comeback from childbirth. The Olympic 100m butterfly champ now owns the fastest times among Americans in the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle since the start of 2015, after clocking 53.59 in the 100m free prelims in Charlotte on Sunday morning.

Vollmer, who gave birth to Arlen on March 6, 2015, knocked Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky down the U.S. standings, which now look like this since Jan. 1, 2015:

  1. Dana Vollmer — 53.59 (2016)
  2. Missy Franklin — 53.68 (2015)
  3. Katie Ledecky — 53.75 (2016)
  4. Abbey Weitzeil — 53.77 (2016)
  5. Simone Manuel — 53.80 (2016)
  6. Natalie Coughlin — 53.85 (2015)

The top two at the U.S. Olympic Trials on July 1 in Omaha make the individual Olympic 100m freestyle. The top six will likely be chosen for the 4x100m free relay pool.

Vollmer’s time Sunday marked her fastest 100m free outside of the fast-suit-era 2009 World Championships by .39 of a second.

Manuel clocked 54.11, Ledecky posted 54.55 and Coughlin 55.41 in Atlanta on Sunday.

Atlanta Results | Charlotte Results

2. U.S. men’s 100m freestyle bunches up behind Nathan Adrian

The Olympic champion Adrian clocked 48.29 to win in Atlanta. No other American was within one second of that time in either Atlanta or Charlotte.

Adrian appears a lock to make the Olympic 100m free, but several men are bidding not only for the second individual U.S. spot but also for a place in the 4x100m free relay pool.

The contenders’ best times on Sunday:

Anthony Ervin — 49.30
Jimmy Feigen — 49.56
Michael Chadwick — 49.96
Ryan Lochte — 50.01
Conor Dwyer — 50.22
Caeleb Dressel — 50.26
Cullen Jones — 50.31

That list doesn’t include Michael Phelps, who has been a part of the 4x100m relay final quartet at the last three Olympics and has the second-fastest time among Americans since the start of 2014. Phelps skipped competing this weekend as his fiancée recently gave birth.

Olympic 100m backstroke champion Matt Grevers, a 4x100m free relay prelim swimmer at the last two Olympics, also didn’t compete this weekend.

3. Will Ryan Lochte double up at Olympic Trials?

Lochte will turn 32 years old two days before the Opening Ceremony. Since London, he endured major injury, retirement thoughts and a coaching change to remain one of the world’s greatest swimmers.

But one wonders when the daunting 200m backstroke-200m individual medley double will be too much for the 11-time Olympic medalist.

Lochte earned medals in both events on the same day at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Those finals are again in the same session at the Olympic Trials in Omaha and the Rio Olympics.

In Charlotte, Lochte swam the 200m IM on Sunday, winning in 1:58.97. He is the four-time reigning World 200m IM champion and was second-fastest overall in the world last year behind Michael Phelps.

Lochte did not swim the 200m backstroke in Charlotte on Sunday. He ranked tied for ninth in the U.S. in that event last year and eighth in 2014, failing to make the 2015 World Championships.

It’s clear Lochte’s standing is better in the 200m IM than the 200m back, but the latter holds significance as it was his first individual Olympic title in 2008.

The question is, is it worth doing both events at the Olympic Trials (and perhaps the Olympics) within minutes of each other? Especially when no swimmer as old as Lochte has ever won an individual Olympic event.

We’ll find out in the next six weeks.

The next top domestic U.S. meets are in Austin, Indianapolis and Santa Clara, Calif., the first weekend of June. Phelps is scheduled to compete in Austin. Ledecky might skip them all.

VIDEO: Inside Lochte’s home, featuring ‘The Jeah Spot’

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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