Anthony Ervin misses world team as Caeleb Dressel keeps rising

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Anthony Ervin defied Father Time in Rio. He couldn’t do it again in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Ervin, who last year became the oldest individual Olympic swimming champion by four years, finished sixth in the 50m freestyle at USA Swimming Nationals. Ervin will not be going to the world championships later this month.

USA Swimming Nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, determines the team for worlds in Budapest.

Ervin, who at 36 was the oldest swimmer at nationals by three years, needed a top-two finish to earn a trip to Hungary.

Caeleb Dressel won the 50m free in 21.53 seconds, qualifying for his fourth individual event at worlds. He was followed by Nathan Adrian in 21.87. Ervin clocked 22.09.

Dressel, 20, has nine events to choose from at worlds when including five relays (two mixed-gender). He swam in one individual event (sixth in the 100m free) and two relays in Rio (prelim only in the medley relay).

SWIM NATIONALS: Full Results

In other events Saturday, Leah Smith joined Katie Ledecky on the world team in the women’s 1500m freestyle by swimming 16:01.02.

It’s the second-fastest time in the world this year, 25 seconds behind the leader Ledecky. Ledecky had a bye onto the world team in the 1500m by winning the 800m free on Tuesday.

Smith, the Olympic 400m free bronze medalist, qualified for the world team in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, plus the 400m individual medley and the 4x200m free relay.

If Smith swims all of those events at worlds, it lines up to be 7,000 total meters of racing if she makes every final (700 more meters than Ledecky’s slate).

“Last summer, I swam three events [in Rio],” Smith said on Universal HD. “So, this will be really fun to challenge myself.”

Simone Manuel won the women’s 50m freestyle in 24.27 seconds. Abbey Weitzeil held off Lia Neal by .03 to sneak onto the world team.

Olympians Chase Kalisz and Melanie Margalis won the 200m IMs.

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Simone Biles returns to the gym, going from mental drain to physical pain

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For Simone Biles, this was supposed to be the stretch run of a legendary career.

Instead, she returned to her gym on May 18 with long-term thoughts of waiting 14 months until the Tokyo Olympics. And the immediate aches of a world-class gymnast who just missed nearly two months of regular training.

“After that amount of time off, it kind of sucks because your body hurts and then you get really sore,” Biles said in a pre-recorded ESPNW interview that aired Thursday. “So you just have to get back into the swing of things. But it felt nice to see my coaches, my teammates, and just to be back on the equipment and in the environment.”

In that same Texas gym three months ago, Biles had a far different outlook. One that would have put fear into any gymnast who still harbored ambition of ending her near-seven-year win streak.

“I never felt more ready this early in the season,” she said. “I was so ready for the Olympics to be this year.”

Biles repeated in interviews the last two months that the Olympic postponement to 2021 was devastating. Thoughts zig-zagged: How do I go on another year, at age 23, in a sport recently dominated by (but not limited to) teenagers?

“I’m getting pretty old,” she said in the interview published Thursday. “Will I be at the top of my game?”

Biles proved the last two years — after a year off — that she can win — and comfortably — while not at her best. She grabbed the 2018 World all-around title by a record margin — with two falls. Last year, she became the most decorated gymnast in world championships history. In Tokyo, she can become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion, and the only one older than 20, in more than 50 years.

This for a gymnast whose early goal was to earn a college scholarship. Biles did, to UCLA, but had to give it up by turning professional.

“So I’ve exceeded that,” Biles said. “And then I wanted to go to world championships and Olympics, and I’ve been to five worlds and one Olympic Games. So, I’d be more than happy [to walk away].”

After gymnastics, Biles has another goal — to be a voice for foster kids. She was in foster care multiple times before being adopted at age 6 by grandparents Ron and Nellie.

Those plans, along with so much else for Biles and so many others, have been pushed back a full year.

“I was already being mentally drained and almost, not done with the sport, but just going into the gym and feeling tired and being like, OK, I’m going to get my stuff [done], get out,” she said. “We have this one end goal, and now that it’s postponed another [year], it’s just like, how are we going to deal with that? We’re already being drained, and so it’s to keep the fire in the sport within yourself alive.”

MORE: Top U.S. gymnasts disagree with Tokyo Olympic age rule

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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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