Michael Phelps cruises into 200m butterfly final, scratches 100m freestyle

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Michael Phelps looked as dominant as ever in his first event of the trials.

He was more than a second ahead of the next-fastest swimmer in the semifinals of the 200-meter butterfly Tuesday at U.S. Olympic swimming trials, powering through the water with ease while his 7-week-old son, Boomer, watched from the stands. Phelps touched in 1:55.17.

The 200m butterfly final is Wednesday night. In 2015, Phelps clocked the fastest time in the world in this event (1:52.94) since 2009. On Tuesday morning, he was the fastest man in the prelims.

Later Tuesday, Phelps scratched out of the 100m freestyle, an event he wasn’t expected to swim. Earlier in the week he also pulled himself out of the 200m free. That leaves his participation in the freestyle relays in Rio up in the air.

Phelps was seeded second in the 100m free, meaning he’d still be a strong candidate to be selected for the Olympic relay squad. It will be up to Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman, who is also the U.S. Olympic men’s coach.

Phelps is now down to just three events at trials: 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly. The last time he swam only three events at an Olympic Trials was 2000, when he placed second in the 200m butterfly, 11th in the 400m IM and 20th in the 200m IM. He was 15 then and will turn 31 on Thursday.

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Meanwhile Tuesday, Phelps couldn’t help but notice all the newcomers on the U.S. team – as many as 17 likely claiming spots through the first three days of the meet.

“I don’t even know half of them,” he said. “It’s exciting to have new faces, where people are really pumped to come up in the sport. That’s a good thing to see as I’m on my way out.”

Phelps, who already has 18 golds and 22 medals overall, came out of retirement seeking to win a few more before he calls it quits again.

MORE: Ryan Lochte earns berth in Rio, but only in relay event so far

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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U.S. Open mulls no fans, group flights, coronavirus tests as decision looms

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Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks.

No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days.

All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open — if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic — and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament.

“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”

With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”

An announcement should come from “mid-June to end of June,” Allaster said.

All sanctioned competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until late July.

The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.

There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with several governing bodies.

“Everybody would agree to the fundamental principles, I’m sure: protecting the health of participants, following the local laws and minimizing the risk of the transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who is overseeing the ITF’s return-to-tennis policy. “But then you have to get down into the specific details.”

One such detail: The USTA wants to add locker rooms — including at indoor courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak — and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also being considered: no locker-room access until just before a match. So if anyone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and return to the hotel.”

The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group Friday; now that will be discussed with city, state and federal government officials.

MORE: Olympic tennis: Key questions for Tokyo Games in 2021

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