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Five women’s races to watch at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

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With 26 events over eight days, there will be plenty to watch at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, starting Sunday on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Here are five women’s events to focus on:

Women’s 100m freestyle – July 1
Three 19-year-olds will battle some Olympic veterans for six Olympic berths (only two individually, though), and some vets who are not necessarily freestyle specialists. The top seed is Simone Manuel, who clocked in at 53.25 as a 17-year-old at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. Seeded second will be Missy Franklin (53.68), the reigning Olympic 100 and 200 backstroke champ. Third is reigning Olympic 100 butterfly champ Dana Vollmer (53.59). Then there’s 19-year-old Katie Ledecky (53.75), who won gold at the 2015 Worlds in every freestyle event longer than 100 meters, and another 19-year-old, Abbey Weitzeil (53.77). A relay spot could go to 33-year-old Natalie Coughlin, who has won 12 Olympic medals, two of which were in the 100 free (bronze in 2004 and ’08).

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Women’s 200m freestyle – June 29
The 200 free will be similarly loaded with big names battling for six spots. Ledecky is the favorite after winning the event at the 2015 Worlds and posting the world’s second-fastest time so far this year (1:54.43). Franklin won bronze at last year’s Worlds in 1:55.49, seventh-fastest since the start of 2015. And Allison Schmitt is the defending Olympic gold medalist. She won in London in 1:53.61, but her best time since January 2015 is 1:56.23. Manuel, seeded ninth, could vie for a berth here as well.

Women’s 100m backstroke – June 28
This one could come down to Franklin and Coughlin. Franklin is the defending Olympic champion, winning the London 100 back in 58.33; she placed fifth at the 2015 Worlds in 59.40, tops among Americans. Coughlin, however, holds the fastest American time since the start of 2015 (59.05). She’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist in this event (2004 and ’08), but was edged out at the 2012 Trials by Franklin and then-18-year-old Rachel Bootsma, whose recent times leave her a longshot in the event at this year’s Trials.

Women’s 400m individual medley – June 26
Maya DiRado, 23, looks set to make her Olympic debut after winning silver in the 400 IM at the 2015 Worlds in 4:31.71, the second-fastest time in the world since the start of 2015. Close behind is Elizabeth Beisel, who posted 4:31.99 at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, and won silver at the London Games with a time of 4:31.27. Caitlin Leverenz also took part in that Olympic final, placing sixth (4:35.49); her best mark since is 4:35.46. And Ledecky will be seeded fifth in this race, though she is unlikely to have designs on swimming it in Rio.

Women’s 200m butterfly – June 30
Cammile Adams made her Olympic debut four years ago after winning this event at Trials, and then finished fifth in London (2:06.78). She dropped her time to 2:06.40 and won silver at the 2015 Worlds, and her best mark since January 2015 is 2:06.33, fifth in the world. She’ll be challenged at Trials by 18-year-old Katie McLaughlin, who placed sixth at Worlds last year in 2:06.95, the world’s 11th-best time in the past two years. DiRado and Hali Flickinger could also contend for that second spot.

Watch Danell Leyva splash out of American Ninja Warrior

Danell Leyva
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Triple Olympic medalist Danell Leyva became the latest gymnast to appear on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” splashing out of the “Leaps of Faith” in the latter portion of the course in the Los Angeles City Finals that aired Monday.

Leyva’s full run can be seen at the 44-minute mark here.

Leyva, a 27-year-old who took all-around bronze at the 2012 London Games and then retired with parallel bars and high bar silver in Rio, was cheered on by 2012 Olympic teammates Jonathan Horton and John Orozco. He previously completed the course at the Los Angeles City qualifier.

Horton has tackled ANW five times, according to the broadcast. Other gymnasts to appear on the show included Olympic all-around champions Nastia Liukin and Paul Hamm and, perhaps the show’s most famous competitor, former Towson University athlete Kacy Catanzaro.

Leyva could still make the Las Vegas finals, according to the broadcast.

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Chinese 13-year-olds go 1-2 at diving worlds; U.S. medal drought ends

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Reminiscent of one of its legendary divers, Chinese 13-year-olds took gold and silver in the women’s platform at the world diving championships on Wednesday. Delaney Schnell rallied for bronze, ending a 14-year U.S. medal drought.

Chen Yuxi and Lu Wei, both born in 2005, tallied 439 and 377.8 points, respectively, in Gwangju, South Korea. China is nine for nine in gold medals with four finals left this week. Schnell, who was in fifth place and 1.2 points back of third going into the last dive, ended up with 364.2.

No U.S. woman had earned an individual world platform medal since Laura Wilkinson‘s gold in 2005. Schnell, 20, was sixth at the 2016 Olympic trials and second at the 2017 World trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

Back in 1991, Chinese 12-year-old Fu Mingxia captured the world title on the platform. A year later, Fu took platform gold in Barcelona and remains the youngest Summer Olympic champion since 1960. Fu went on to win a Chinese record four individual Olympic diving titles.

Lu and Chen represent the next generation of Chinese female divers following the post-Rio retirements of their role model, Chen Ruolin, and Wu Minxia.

China is such a diving factory that it took gold and silver without the Rio Olympic platform champion, Ren Qian, who is not on this year’s world team. Ren, then 15 in Rio, became the youngest Olympic diving gold medalist since Fu.

China, two years after its least successful diving worlds since 2005, is moving closer to sweeping every gold medal at these worlds. They last accomplished the feat in 2011.

Earlier Wednesday, Chinese Xie Siyi (reigning world champion) and Cao Yuan (reigning Olympic champion) qualified first and second into Thursday’s men’s springboard final.

David Boudia, the 2012 U.S. Olympic platform champion, was a strong fourth in his first major international meet since Rio and switching to the springboard. Rio Olympian Michael Hixon also advanced in the 12th and last spot.

NBC Olympic Researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Gwangju.

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