Michael Phelps wins 100m butterfly at Olympic Trials in final U.S. swim

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Michael Phelps wasn’t about to lose his last race in the United States.

With his huge wingspan cutting through the water, Phelps dazzled the home fans one last time.

Phelps made it three-for-three at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, rallying on the return lap to win the 100-meter butterfly Saturday night.

In what was billed as the farewell race in his home country, Phelps competed in lane seven after a sluggish swim in the semifinals. As usual, it took him a lap to really get going, making the turn in fourth place.

But Phelps powered to the front, as he’s done so many times. Even with a long glide to the wall, he finished in 51.00 seconds.

When Phelps saw the “1” beside his name, he pounded the water and pointed toward his family — including 7-week-old son Boomer — up in the stands. He’ll now get a chance to win his fourth straight gold in the 100 fly at Rio.

When his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, asked for a game plan before the race, Phelps kept it simple.

“I don’t want to lose my last race on American soil,” he said. “That was king of in my head.”

Katie Ledecky and Maya DiRado also won their third individual events on the next-to-last night of the trials, while Nathan Adrian made up for the disappointment of four years ago by winning the 50 freestyle.

Olympic 100m freestyle champion Nathan Adrian won the 50m free in 21.51 seconds. Anthony Ervin, at age 35, finished .01 behind to made his third Olympic team. Ervin shared gold in this event in 2000 with Gary Hall Jr.

For Ledecky, it’s been the dominating performance everyone expected, this one a nearly 10-second victory in the 800 freestyle.

For DiRado, it’s been a huge surprise, the first-time Olympian setting herself up to make quite a splash before she retires at age 23.

SWIM TRIALS: Video | Results | Broadcast Schedule

A late bloomer who already lined up a job as a business analyst in Atlanta, she followed her victories in the 200 and 400 individual medley by knocking off defending Olympic champion Missy Franklin in the 200 backstroke.

Franklin finished second to at least ensure she’ll get a chance to go for another gold in Rio.

Phelps, of course, is also planning to retire — for the second time — as soon as his fifth Olympics are over. At age 31, he cruised through Omaha with victories in both butterfly races as well as the 200 individual medley. Assuming he is on all three men’s relays in Rio, he’ll get a chance to add six more medals to his already massive collection — 18 golds and 22 medals overall.

The second Olympic spot in the 100 fly went to Tom Shields, who touched in 51.20 to barely beat out Seth Stubblefield (51.24) and Jack Conger (51.26).

“I have a lot of emotion here, with Boomer and with the family here, and being my last meet on American soil,” Phelps said. “We did everything that we wanted to do.”

Phelps didn’t go quite as fast as he wanted during the trials.

He’ll be looking to add more speed over the next months.

“A 51.0 is OK,” he said, “but it’s going to take more than that to win a gold medal.”

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

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