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U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials women’s event-by-event preview

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The top two finishers in all 26 events at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials will clinch Rio berths, which means Olympic and/or World champions will be left out of the exclusive team.

Michael PhelpsRyan LochteMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky headline the meet in Omaha, Neb., beginning Sunday.

While they are favorites to make the Olympic team, they will be joined by many more Olympic medal threats.

For relays, the top six finishers in the 100m and 200m freestyles are in line to to make the Olympic team, too.

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PREVIEWS: Men | Women
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Here’s a glimpse at all 13 women’s events at the Olympic Trials:

50m Freestyle
2012 Olympians: Jessica Hardy (seventh), Kara Lynn Joyce (16th)
2015 Worlds: Simone Manuel (eighth), Ivy Martin (26th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Madison Kennedy (24.45)
2. Simone Manuel (24.47)
3. Ivy Martin (24.62)
4. Natalie Coughlin (24.66)
5. Dana Vollmer (24.69)

Outlook: The fastest American woman right now is the 28-year-old Kennedy, who is vying for her Olympic debut. She’s never even competed at the World Championships, but won the 50 free national title last summer. The 19-year-old Manuel was the best American at the 2015 Worlds, where she was joined by Martin, 22.

100m Freestyle
2012 Olympians: Missy Franklin (fifth), Jessica Hardy (eighth)
2015 Worlds: Simone Manuel (sixth), Missy Franklin (seventh)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Simone Manuel (53.25)
2. Missy Franklin (53.43)
3. Dana Vollmer (53.59)
4. Katie Ledecky (53.75)
5. Abbey Weitzeil (53.77)
6. Natalie Coughlin (53.85)
7. Margo Geer (53.95)
8. Lia Neal (54.01)

Outlook: There’s a serious youth movement taking place in the women’s 100m free. The top two seeds are 19 and 21 years old, respectively, and the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds are also 19. Manuel has the looks of being the next great American sprinter, but the new mother, 28-year-old Vollmer, boasts the fastest American time in the past year. Remember, the top six should make the team for the relay pool.

200m Freestyle
2012 Olympians: Allison Schmitt (gold), Missy Franklin (fourth)
2015 Worlds: Katie Ledecky (gold), Missy Franklin (bronze)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Katie Ledecky (1:54.43)
2. Missy Franklin (1:55.49)
3. Allison Schmitt (1:56.23)
4. Leah Smith (1:56.64)
5. Melanie Margalis (1:57.33)
6. Shannon Vreeland (1:57.38)
7. Katie McLaughlin (1:57.55)
8. Maya DiRado (1:57.70)

Outlook: It’s not often the reigning Olympic champ isn’t favored to even qualify for a chance to defend her title, but Schmitt will have to oust either the 2013 World champion (Franklin) or 2015 World champion (Ledecky) for an individual 200 free spot (top six likely for relay). Franklin would love a 200 free Olympic medal after finishing fourth in London, while Ledecky is a freestyle machine.

400m Freestyle
2012 Olympians: Allison Schmitt (silver), Chloe Sutton (10th)
2015 Worlds: Katie Ledecky (gold), Cierra Runge (ninth)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Katie Ledecky (3:58.37)
2. Leah Smith (4:03.33)
3. Cierra Runge (4:04.55)
4. Allison Schmitt (4:06.88)
5. Becca Mann (4:07.09)

Outlook: Here’s another event in which Schmitt may not even get a chance to return to the Olympics despite claiming a medal four years ago. The 400 is dominated by Ledecky, the reigning world champ with a top time nearly five seconds better than Smith. The battle will really be between Smith, Runge and Schmitt for that second berth.

800m Freestyle
2012 Olympians: Katie Ledecky (gold), Kate Ziegler (21st)
2015 Worlds: Katie Ledecky (gold), Becca Mann (10th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Katie Ledecky (8:06.68)
2. Becca Mann (8:21.77)
3. Cierra Runge (8:24.69)
4. Leah Smith (8:24.74)
5. Stephanie Peacock (8:25.89)

Outlook: This is Ledecky’s event and the others are just swimming in it. Again, the battle at Trials will be for second place because no one’s catching Ledecky. The 18-year-old Mann holds the second seed and will try to hold off Runge, Smith and Peacock.

100m Backstroke
2012 Olympians: Missy Franklin (gold), Rachel Bootsma (11th)
2015 Worlds: Missy Franklin (fifth), Kathleen Baker (eighth)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Natalie Coughlin (59.05)
2. Missy Franklin (59.38)
3. Olivia Smoliga (59.41)
4. Claire Adams (59.58)
5. Kathleen Baker (59.63)

Outlook: This is the 33-year-old Coughlin’s best shot at making a fourth Olympic team individually. Two of her 12 Olympic medals are golds from the 100 back (2004 and ’08), but she couldn’t advance past Trials in the event four years ago. Her toughest competition should come from Franklin, the reigning Olympic champion.

200m Backstroke
2012 Olympians: Missy Franklin (gold), Elizabeth Beisel (bronze)
2015 Worlds: Missy Franklin (silver), Elizabeth Beisel (13th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Missy Franklin (2:06.34)
2. Maya DiRado (2:08.19)
3. Elizabeth Beisel (2:08.33)
4. Lisa Bratton (2:09.31)
5. Elizabeth Pelton (2:09.36)

Outlook: Franklin’s best event – she holds the world record from her final race in London (2:04.06) – sees her with a top time nearly two seconds faster than DiRado, who’s looking for her first Olympic berth. She’ll have to beat Beisel, the Olympic bronze medalist from 2012.

100m Breaststroke
2012 Olympians: Rebecca Soni (silver), Breeja Larson (sixth)
2015 Worlds: Jessica Hardy (10th), Micah Lawrence (19th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Katie Meili (1:05.64)
2. Lilly King (1:05.73)
3. Molly Hannis (1:06.16)
4. Sarah Haase (1:06.31)
5. Jessica Hardy (1:06.51)

Outlook: Meili is the reigning national champ, and her top time is third-best in the world since the end of 2014. King’s top mark in this event is the fourth-best over the same span. Less than a second back is Hardy, who seeks a second Olympic berth but first in a breaststroke event.

200m Breaststroke
2012 Olympians: Rebecca Soni (gold), Micah Lawrence (sixth)
2015 Worlds: Micah Lawrence (silver), Breeja Larson (19th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Micah Lawrence (2:22.04)
2. Laura Sogar (2:23.54)
3. Katie Meili (2:23.69)
4. Breeja Larson (2:24.16)
5. Lilly King (2:24.47)

Outlook: Lawrence has stepped in nicely to fill the void left by Soni, the retired 200 breast Olympic champion in 2008 and ’12. She’s moved from sixth at the London Games, to bronze at the 2013 Worlds and silver at last year’s worlds. Yet, Sogar is the defending national champ.

100m Butterfly
2012 Olympians: Dana Vollmer (gold), Claire Donahue (seventh)
2015 Worlds: Kendyl Stewart (10th), Claire Donahue (20th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Dana Vollmer (56.94)
2. Kelsi Worrell (57.24)
3. Kendyl Stewart (57.82)
4. Katie McLaughlin (57.87)
5. Claire Donahue (58.03)

Outlook: Vollmer followed up her Olympic title with a bronze in this event at the 2013 Worlds, but she didn’t compete in the 2015 Worlds after having a baby earlier that March. She’s back in form now, posting her U.S.-best time of 56.94 earlier this year. Worrell was a butterfly star in college, so much so that she was recently nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

200m Butterfly
2012 Olympians: Kathleen Hersey (fourth), Cammile Adams (fifth)
2015 Worlds: Cammile Adams (silver), Katie McLaughlin (sixth)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Cammile Adams (2:06.33)
2. Katie McLaughlin (2:06.95)
3. Maya DiRado (2:07.42)
4. Hali Flickinger (2:07.59)
5. Cassidy Bayer (2:08.03)

Outlook: DiRado has become America’s best in the medley races, but she could steal another berth in butterfly. Adams, a 2012 Olympian, is the favorite after taking silver at the 2015 Worlds, but she’s pushed by the 18-year-old McLaughlin, who’s been hampered by a neck injury suffered earlier this year on a training trip with her college team, Cal.

200m Individual Medley
2012 Olympians: Caitlin Leverenz (bronze), Ariana Kukors (fifth)
2015 Worlds: Maya DiRado (fourth), Melanie Margalis (seventh)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Maya DiRado (2:08.99)
2. Melanie Margalis (2:10.20)
3. Caitlin Leverenz (2:10.35)
4. Ella Eastin (2:10.54)
5. Madisyn Cox (2:10.75)

Outlook: While DiRado is a strong contender for multiple Olympic berths, she’s separated herself from her compatriots the most in the 200 IM. She missed a medal at the 2015 Worlds by .22 of a second. Joining her in that final was Margalis in her Worlds debut. She hopes to fend off Leverenz, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist whose best shot at a return Olympic trip is through this event.

400m Individual Medley
2012 Olympians: Elizabeth Beisel (silver), Caitlin Leverenz (sixth)
2015 Worlds: Maya DiRado (silver), Elizabeth Beisel (12th)
Top seeds from entry lists
1. Maya DiRado (4:31.71)
2. Elizabeth Beisel (4:31.99)
3. Caitlin Leverenz (4:35.46)
4. Becca Mann (4:37.04)
5. Katie Ledecky (4:37.93)

Outlook: This is the 23-year-old Beisel’s best shot at getting to a third Olympics. DiRado is the same age but looking to make her Olympic debut. She’s come on strong in the medleys since placing fourth in both the 200 and 400 at the 2012 Trials. Beisel and DiRado’s best times are nearly four seconds faster than the rest of their compatriots.

MORE: Olympic Swimming Trials broadcast schedule

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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