Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel
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Katie Ledecky, Chase Kalisz top U.S. swim rankings as nationals near

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The U.S. Championships in three weeks will herald a changing of the guard in many events.

Katie Ledecky is the only active member of the Big Four. Michael Phelps is retired, Ryan Lochte is suspended and Missy Franklin is out of competition indefinitely after shoulder surgeries.

Ledecky continued her dominance as the headliner of this spring’s Pro Series meets, impressive coming off a long freshman season at Stanford.

Now that the six-event series is finished, the 2017 U.S. rankings have come into view going into nationals, where the top two per individual event qualify for the world championships in Budapest in July. The top six in the 100m and 200m frees will likely qualify for relays.

The rankings for Olympic events (plus the men’s 800m free and women’s 1500m free) are below, but first some notes:

  • Ledecky is again No. 1 by a comfortable margin in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles. She’s likely to repeat her 2015 World Championships slate, where she became the first swimmer to sweep those four races at a single worlds. She could also go for the 4x100m and 4x200m free relays, which would mean a possible six gold medals to tie Franklin’s record from 2013. Though Ledecky ranks No. 1 in the U.S. in the 400m individual medley by nearly one second, she’s not expected to race it at nationals.
  • Ledecky’s world-record times from the last two years in the 800m and 1500m frees would rank No. 4 on the U.S. men’s 800m and 1500m free lists for 2017. The U.S. has zero men who have met the A standard in either event, which means it will only be able to send one entry per event if nobody hits the standard at trials.
  • In the absence of Phelps and Lochte, Chase Kalisz emerged as the U.S.’ best all-around swimmer. The Olympic 400m IM silver medalist leads the rankings in both IMs, plus the 200m butterfly.
  • Ryan Murphy, who swept the backstrokes in Rio, will likely go into nationals ranked second in both events.
  • Anthony Ervin, who won Rio Olympic 50m free gold at age 35, ranks No. 16 in the U.S. this year.

Men
50m freestyle
1. Nathan Adrian (22.09)
2. Caeleb Dressel (22.13)
3. Michael Chadwick (22.22)
4. Michael Andrew (22.38)

100m freestyle
1. Nathan Adrian (48.18)
2. Michael Chadwick (48.69)

3. Blake Pieroni (49.18)
4. Caeleb Dressel (49.26)
5. Ryan Held (49.32)
6. Michael Jensen (49.35)
7. Justin Ress (49.48)
8. Ryan Murphy (49.60)

200m freestyle (1:47.73 A standard)
1. Blake Pieroni (1:48.14)
2. Zane Grothe (1:48.73)
3. Jay Litherland (1:49.28)
4. Patrick Callan (1:49.41)
5. Jack Conger (1:49.44)
6. Drew Kiebler (1:49.45)
7. Conor Dwyer (1:49.47)
8. Gunnar Bentz (1:49.54)

400m freestyle (3:48.15 A standard)
1. Zane Grothe (3:47.99)
2. Clark Smith (3:49.40)
3. Jay Litherland (3:50.96)
4. Andrew Abruzzo (3:51.01)

800m freestyle (7:54.31 A standard)
1. True Sweetser (8:01.44)
2. Zane Grothe (8:01.94)
3. Clark Smith (8:02.34)
4. Liam Egan (8:05.10)

1500m freestyle (15:12.79 A standard)
1. Andrew Abruzzo (15:13.95)
2. Zane Grothe (15:22.05)
3. True Sweetser (15:23.95)
4. Michael Brinegar (15:25.70)

100m backstroke
1. Matt Grevers (53.31)
2. Ryan Murphy (53.48)

3. Justin Ress (53.49)
4. Jacob Pebley (53.77)

200m backstroke
1. Jacob Pebley (1:55.56)
2. Ryan Murphy (1:55.82)
3. Sean Lehane (1:59.57)
4. Drew Kibler (2:00.22)

100m breaststroke
1. Cody Miller (1:00.30)
2. Kevin Cordes (1:00.43)
3. Andrew Wilson (1:00.45)
4. Nic Fink (1:00.70)

200m breaststroke
1. Josh Prenot (2:09.93)
2. Nic Fink (2:10.62)
3. Chase Kalisz (2:10.74)
2. Kevin Cordes (2:11.50)

100m butterfly
1. Tom Shields (52.09)
2. Jack Conger (52.24)
3. Caeleb Dressel (52.29)
4. Tripp Cooper (52.84)

200m butterfly
1. Chase Kalisz (1:55.82)
2. Pace Clark (1:56.75)

3. Tom Shields (1:58.05)
4. Jack Conger (1:58.44)

200m individual medley
1. Chase Kalisz (1:57.21)
2. Josh Prenot (1:58.93)
3. Michael Andrew (1:59.12)
4. Jay Litherland (2:00.48)

400m individual medley
1. Chase Kalisz (4:09.43)
2. Jay Litherland (4:13.79)
3. Josh Prenot (4:14.74)
4. Abrahm DeVine (4:17.57)

Women
50m freestyle

1. Simone Manuel (24.66)
2. Madison Kennedy (24.99)
3. Kelsi Worrell (25.11)
4. Lia Neal (25.12)

100m freestyle
1. Simone Manuel (53.66)
2. Mallory Comerford (53.91)
3. Lia Neal (54.38)
4. Amanda Weir (54.59)
5. Katie Ledecky (54.69)
6. Kelsi Worrell (54.84)
7. Abbey Weitzeil (55.05)
8. Courtney Caldwell (55.11)

200m freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky (1:55.34)
2. Melanie Margalis (1:57.69)
3. Leah Smith (1:57.72)
4. Simone Manuel (1:57.87)
5. Mallory Comerford (1:58.54)
6. Katie Drabot (1:58.85)
7. Katie McLaughlin (1:59.11)
8. Hali Flickinger (1:59.20)

400m freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky (4:00.98)
2. Leah Smith (4:05.62)
3. Katie Drabot (4:08.07)
4. Hali Flickinger (4:08.52)

800m freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky (8:15.44)
2. Leah Smith (8:23.27)
3. Cierra Runge (8:29.27)
4. Ashley Twichell (8:30.19)

1500m freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky (15:35.65)
2. Hannah Moore (16:22.96)

3. G Ryan (16:25.64)
4. Leah Stevens (16:36.13)

100m backstroke
1. Hannah Stevens (59.40)
2. Ali Deloof (59.43)
3. Regan Smith (59.74)
4. Olivia Smoliga (1:00.70)

200m backstroke
1. Regan Smith (2:09.79)
2. Asia Seidt (2:09.82)
3. Eva Merrell (2:10.22)
4. Hali Flickinger (2:10.56)

100m breaststroke
1. Katie Meili (1:05.95)
2. Lilly King (1:06.20)
3. Molly Hannis (1:06.47)
4. Breeja Larson (1:07.17)

200m breaststroke
1. Katie Meili (2:23.18)
2. Madisyn Cox (2:25.62)
3. Melanie Margalis (2:25.71)
4. Lilly King (2:25.90)

100m butterfly
1. Kelsi Worrell (57.44)
2. Amanda Kendall (58.27)
3. Kendyl Stewart (58.32)
4. Hellen Moffitt (58.59)

200m butterfly
1. Hali Flickinger (2:08.77)
2. Kelsi Worrell (2:09.04)
3. Cassidy Bayer (2:10.16)
4. Katie McLaughlin (2:10.35)

200m individual medley
1. Melanie Margalis (2:10.43)
2. Madisyn Cox (2:11.14)
3. Ella Eastin (2:14.04)
4. Alex Walsh (2:14.37)

400m individual medley
1. Katie Ledecky (4:38.16)
2. Madisyn Cox (4:39.07)
3. Elizabeth Beisel (4:40.00)
4. Melanie Margalis (4:40.47)

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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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