Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps set for last race in U.S. water; Saturday finals preview

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Michael PhelpsKatie Ledecky and Missy Franklin finish their Olympic Trials on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports app).

Phelps goes for his third win of the Olympic Trials in the 100m butterfly. The 22-time Olympic medalist is already on the Rio team in the 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Ledecky also eyes her third victory in Omaha. She swims the event she won in London, the 800m freestyle. Ledecky previous prevailed in the 200m and 400m freestyles this week.

And Franklin races her signature event, the 200m backstroke. Franklin endured a difficult week to get here and can notch her first victory of Trials. She’s already on the team after finishing second to Ledecky in the 200m freestyle but failed to make the team in the 100m free and 100m backstroke, both of which she swam in London.

SWIM TRIALS: Video | Results | Broadcast Schedule

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

Women’s 200m Backstroke Final
Franklin, the Olympic champion and world-record holder, qualified second-fastest into this final. The top qualifier is Maya DiRado, who already swept the individual medleys this week and can become not only the first swimmer to make the Rio Olympic team in three individual events, but also the first one to win three individual events at Trials. DiRado was .49 faster than Franklin in the semifinals. Nobody else was within one second of Franklin, giving her some breathing room to finish top two and make the Rio team.

Men’s 100m Butterfly Final
Phelps was sixth-fastest in the preliminary heats and the semifinals, but remember his time from the 2015 U.S. Championships was the fastest in the world since 2009. Phelps is a three-time Olympic champion in this event. It would be a shock if he isn’t in the top two here. The top six swimmers in the semifinals were separated by .57 of a second, and with Phelps known for coming from behind, it should be an exciting final 50 meters.

Women’s 800m Freestyle Final
This race will not be nearly as close. Ledecky had the fastest time in prelims by 10.73 seconds and now owns the 10 fastest 800m free swims of all time. Leah Smith, runner-up to Ledecky in the 400m free earlier at Trials, is the solid favorite to join Ledecky on the Olympic team here. She was 7.32 seconds faster than the No. 3 qualifier into the final.

Men’s 50m Freestyle Final
The top four qualifiers into the final were all born in the 1980s, including the oldest male swimmer at Trials — 35-year-old Anthony Ervin. Ervin tied for the gold medal in this event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He qualified fastest into this final, ahead of world silver medalist Nathan Adrian and Olympic silver medalist Cullen Jones. While Adrian and Ervin already made the Rio team by finishing first and fourth in the 100m free, this is Jones’ last shot to qualify for his third Games.

Women’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals
Madison Kennedy
, who like Jones is down to her final chance at making the Rio team, was the fastest qualifier in 24.52 seconds Saturday morning. She was followed by two women already on the Olympic team in the 100m free, Simone Manuel (24.57) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.58). Nobody else broke 24.90, but the top eight between the two semis make Sunday’s final.

MORE: Olympic Swimming Trials broadcast schedule

Emily Sisson a U.S. Olympic marathon trials favorite, thanks to Ireland

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Emily Sisson didn’t think she would become a professional runner until her last year of college. Now, at 28, she goes into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials as a contender for one of three Tokyo spots, if not the overall favorite.

“I’ve only done one marathon, so I definitely don’t feel like I’m an experienced marathoner,” Sisson said by phone last week from her Arizona base. “That’s the one question mark I’ve had all build-up.”

Predicting a marathon can be a crapshoot, but a Podiumrunner.com experts panel pegged Sisson to win. She is younger than any female U.S. Olympic marathoner since Anne Marie Lauck in 1996 (though fellow contender Jordan Hasay is a month younger).

Confidence stems from last April 28. Sisson clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow. She finished sixth — behind five East Africans. She crossed 3:25 ahead of sometimes training partner and mentor Molly Huddle, also a headliner at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We wanted to run faster,” Sisson said that day in London. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Sisson later mentioned a pre-race scare on the “Keeping Track” podcast. She tripped over a carpet jogging back from a bathroom, banged both knees 15 minutes before the start and got checked out physically by a chiropractor and mentally by her husband, who has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Sisson then covered the final half of that marathon alone, a foreign feeling for the longtime track runner. At one point, she thought about having never before run more than 23 miles.

Her mind could have also wandered to sports memories that led her to the world’s strongest marathon: Attending a 1999 Women’s World Cup match and seeing her hero, Mia Hamm. As a soccer-playing teenager, being asked by a friend to join a track relay team. Or being told during a record-breaking high school career that she was reminiscent of 2004 Olympic marathoner Jen Rhines.

Sisson, whose dad ran and mom did gymnastics at the University of Wisconsin, transferred after one year in Madison to Providence. She had a best NCAA Championships finish of fourth going into her last year. Before that final season, Sisson was prepared to leave competitive running once her NCAA eligibility exhausted in pursuit of an MBA.

“I had been going through a bit of a funk with running,” she said. “I was getting a little tired.”

Things changed the summer before her senior year. She vacationed with then-boyfriend/now-husband Shane Quinn, a fellow Providence runner, in Quinn’s native Ireland. At one point, they altered training, ditching tempo runs for local road races. Sisson never before competed on the roads. She doesn’t remember the distances being exact. She does remember winning.

“That was a new, fun thing that kept the sport kind of fresh for me,” she said. “You finish, and you go into a local pub and have sandwiches.”

Providence coach Ray Treacy put Sisson in more road races that fall. The opportunity was right. She had no cross-country eligibility left while she readied for the winter and spring track seasons. She went on to win the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5000m, a springboard to the pros (while still going after the MBA).

Sisson was set back by injury in 2016 and placed 10th in the Olympic trials 10,000m. She kept training under Treacy, and perhaps just as important, with Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000m. Huddle, seven years older than Sisson, made her marathon debut after the Rio Olympics.

“Emily really looks up to her and is inspired by her,” Treacy said. “Molly has helped her out in numerous ways in training. … Making sure she’s not going overboard with the training, not running too fast. She kind of keeps her under control.”

Sisson made the last two world championships teams in the 10,000m, but Treacy thought marathon since 2015. They signed her up for the 2019 London Marathon, in part because Huddle was going to race it as her third career 26.2-miler. And in part to get Sisson ready for the Olympic trials in 10 months’ time.

The build-up was better than ideal. Sisson ran the second-fastest half marathon in U.S. history (on a record-eligible course) in January. She became the third-fastest U.S. woman all-time at 10,000m in March.

Come April, Treacy was impressed again just by watching Sisson after she crossed the London finish line in what would be the second-fastest marathon for a U.S. woman in 2019.

“It didn’t look like it took anything out of her,” Treacy said. “She recovered really fast. Within minutes, she was feeling pretty good. That was a good sign.”

Sisson returned home to Quinn and their golden retriever, Desmond, who has 1,400 Instagram followers. She skipped a fall marathon to compete in the 10,000m at track worlds in Doha, placing a respectable 10th.

The recent marathon build-up for trials went just as well, if not better, than the training for London.

“I’m definitely putting a bit of pressure on myself with this one,” Sisson said. “But at the same time, I don’t get caught up in so much what other people say. I don’t really read the articles about who’s the favorite or what chance you have of making the team.”

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Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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