Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte duel; Olympic Trials Friday finals preview

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte
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Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte face off for perhaps the final time, while Katie Ledecky takes aim at her toughest event at the Olympic Swimming Trials on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports app).

Phelps and Lochte will go head-to-head in the 200m individual medley final, each looking to make his fourth straight Olympic team in the event. Phelps is the three-time reigning Olympic champion. Lochte is the four-time reigning world champion.

Lochte was faster in the semifinals (1:56.71 to Phelps’ 1:57.61), but Phelps has looked stronger this week.

Lochte, slowed by a groin injury, was third in the 400m individual medley and fourth in the 200m freestyle. So far, his only place on the Olympic team is in the 4x200m free relay.

Phelps won the 200m butterfly to make his record fifth Olympic team for a U.S. male swimmer.

Later Friday, Phelps swims the 100m butterfly semifinals. Lochte also qualified for semis but scratched out of it, according to Swimming World.

One other marquee final Friday is the women’s 100m freestyle. If Katie Ledecky finishes in the top two, she will be in line to become the second U.S. swimmer to contest four freestyle events at one Olympics. Her task will be tall, given Ledecky was seventh fastest in the semifinals.

SWIM TRIALS: Video | Results | Broadcast Schedule

An event-by-event preview of Friday’s semifinals and finals:

Men’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals
Caeleb Dressel
, who on Thursday qualified to become the youngest U.S. man to swim the Olympic 100m free since 1976, was the fastest of 16 qualifiers from Friday morning. He was followed by 2000 co-Olympic champion Anthony Ervin, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Cullen Jones and 2015 World silver medalist Nathan Adrian. While Dressel, Ervin and Adrian are already on the Olympic team, this marks Jones’ last chance.

Women’s 200m Breaststroke Final
The fastest qualifiers into the final were Lilly King, who won the 100m breast already, and Micah Lawrence, who took the reins as the top U.S. female breaststroker following the retirement of Rebecca Soni. Lawrence earned silver and bronze medals in this event at the last two world championships after finishing sixth at the London Olympics.

Men’s 200m Backstroke Final
This is Olympic champion Tyler Clary‘s last chance to make the Olympic team after failed attempts in the 400m individual medley, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly. He’s the No. 3 seed in this final after a 1:55.92 semifinal swim, ranking behind Ryan Murphy (1:55.04) and Jacob Pebley (1:55.18), who are former University of California teammates. Murphy won the 100m backstroke already.

Women’s 200m Backstroke Semifinals
This is Missy Franklin‘s final event of Trials, and it his her signature race. The Olympic champ and world-record holder was fastest in the morning preliminaries (2:09.69), ahead of Maya DiRado (2:09.76) and Elizabeth Beisel (2:10.01). Franklin missed the Olympic team in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle, but says she’s stronger in the 200 distances. She proved it by finishing second to Ledecky in the 200m freestyle.

Men’s 200m Individual Medley Final
Lochte and Phelps shouldn’t be challenged here. Lochte had the fastest semifinal time by nine tenths of a second, with Phelps next up while gliding into the wall the final several strokes. The No. 3 man in this final, David Nolan, was another .55 behind Phelps despite the 22-time Olympic medalist shutting it down considerably last night.

Women’s 100m Freestyle Final
If Ledecky finishes top two out of lane one, it will rank high on her list of accomplishments. Not quite world-record level, but darn impressive. Only six tenths of a second separate the eight swimmers here from their semifinal times. The spectrum ranges from 2012 Olympic champions in other events — Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt — to rising stars Kelsi Worrell and Simone Manuel to 30-year-old Amanda Weir, whose American record from 2009 still stands.

Men’s 100m Butterfly Semifinals
Phelps qualified sixth into the 16-swimmer semifinals. Make no mistake, Phelps is the favorite after winning the 200m butterfly. Lochte was ninth fastest in prelims. His reported scratch was a little bit of a risky move, given Lochte has not made the Olympic team in an individual event yet. It’s 200m IM or bust.

MORE: Olympic Swimming Trials broadcast schedule

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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