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’

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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