Katie Ledecky, Chase Kalisz
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U.S. swimming rankings going into national championships

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The U.S. Swimming Championships are in two weeks, and it’s arguably the second-most important domestic meet of the Olympic cycle.

Nationals will not only determine the team for the year’s major international meet — August’s Pan Pacific Championships — but also partially determine the team for the 2019 World Championships. The selection procedures all but assure the top two per individual event at nationals make Pan Pacs with third-place finishers also strongly in the running. Heck, some fourth-place finishers made the 2014 Pan Pacs team.

The 2019 Worlds team is made up by best times between nationals and Pan Pacs (top two per individual event). Those who struggle at nationals will miss Pan Pacs, and all but assure they miss worlds as well.

The Tyr Pro Swim Series — USA Swimming’s regular-season tour — wrapped up in Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend. It’s as good a time as any to take stock of the best U.S. times for the year and size up the favorites for nationals now that all of the top tune-up meets are behind us.

As expected, Katie Ledecky is far and away No. 1 in the 200m freestyle (by 2.65 seconds), 400m freestyle (6.29 seconds), 800m freestyle (17.78 seconds) and 1500m freestyle (48.22 seconds).

Likewise, Simone Manuel is No. 1 and No. 2 in the 50m and 100m freestyles, Kathleen Baker leads both backstrokes and Lilly King is atop the 100m breaststroke.

The male rankings are a little more surprising. Chase Kalisz, reigning world champion in both individual medleys, also leads the 200m butterfly. That’s not unexpected.

But the man right behind Kalisz in both IMs is an eye-catcher. That’s Ryan Lochte, who came back from suspension to put himself right in the mix to make the Pan Pac and world teams at age 33. An injured Lochte was third in the 400m IM at the Olympic Trials and was a disappointing fifth in the Olympic 200m IM.

Lochte’s best times this year — 1:58.90 and 4:15.80 — are well off the all-important second-place times from 2017 Nationals, though (1:56.79 and 4:09.31).

Caeleb Dressel, who won seven golds at 2017 Worlds, ranks third in each of his primary events (50m and 100m frees and 100m fly), but he swam a full NCAA season and just one Pro Series meet this spring. Expect time drops at nationals in two weeks in Irvine, Calif.

Rankings updated through July 15

Women
50m Freestyle
1. Simone Manuel — 24.59
2. Margo Geer — 24.72
3. Madison Kennedy — 24.88
4. Mallory Comerford — 24.94
5. Kelsi Dahlia — 24.99

100m Freestyle
1. Margo Geer — 53.74
2. Simone Manuel — 53.84
3. Lia Neal — 53.95
4. Mallory Comerford — 54.06
5. Allison Schmitt — 54.34

200m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky — 1:54.56
2. Allison Schmitt — 1:57.21
3. Leah Smith — 1:57.41
4. Melanie Margalis — 1:57.49
5. Simone Manuel — 1:58.06

400m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky — 3:57.94
2. Leah Smith — 4:04.23
3. Hali Flickinger — 4:06.72
4. Katie Drabot — 4:08.29
5. Melanie Margalis — 4:08.84

800m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky — 8:07.27
2. Leah Smith — 8:25.05
3. Ashley Twichell — 8:29.35
4. Haley Anderson — 8:29.64
5. Cierra Runge — 8:29.93

1500m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky — 15:20.48
2. Ashley Twichell — 16:08.70
3. Erica Sullivan — 16:09.88
4. Haley Anderson — 16:10.78
5. Hannah Moore — 16:15.37

100m Backstroke
1. Kathleen Baker — 58.77
2. Olivia Smoliga — 59.14
3. Regan Smith — 59.38
4. Ali Deloof — 59.79
5. Isabelle Stadden — 1:00.06

200m Backstroke
1. Kathleen Baker — 2:07.02
2. Isabelle Stadden — 2:08.37
3. Regan Smith — 2:08.64
4. Asia Seidt — 2:08.91
5. Lisa Bratton — 2:09.86

100m Breaststroke
1. Lilly King — 1:05.61
2. Molly Hannis — 1:06.09
3. Katie Meili — 1:06.49
4. Micah Sumrall — 1:07.51
5. Breeja Larson — 1:07.67

200m Breaststroke
1. Melanie Margalis — 2:24.62
2. Emily Escobedo — 2:24.71
3. Lilly King — 2:24.83
4. Madisyn Cox — 2:25.10
5. Micah Sumrall — 2:26.16

100m Butterfly
1. Kelsi Dahlia — 57.29
2. Kendyl Stewart — 57.80

3. Amanda Kendall — 58.29
4. Katie McLaughlin — 58.33
5. Hellen Moffitt — 58.39

200m Butterfly
1. Hali Flickinger — 2:07.88
2. Katie Drabot — 2:08.38
3. Kelsi Dahlia — 2:09.22
4. Ella Eastin — 2:09.82
5. Katie McLaughlin — 2:10.40

200m Individual Medley
1. Madisyn Cox — 2:09.82
2. Melanie Margalis — 2:10.26
3. Kathleen Baker — 2:11.58
4. Asia Seidt — 2:12.63
5. Evie Pfeifer — 2:12.87

400m Individual Medley
1. Melanie Margalis — 4:36.81
2. Leah Smith — 4:37.64
3. Madisyn Cox — 4:37.94
4. Ella Eastin — 4:38.43
5. Katie Ledecky — 4:38.88

Men
50m Freestyle
1. Michael Andrew — 21.69
2. Nathan Adrian — 21.97
3. Caeleb Dressel — 22.15
4. Justin Ress — 22.36
5. Michael Chadwick — 22.37

100m Freestyle
1. Nathan Adrian — 48.58

2. Jack Conger — 48.76
3. Caeleb Dressel — 48.96
4. Michael Chadwick — 49.01
5. Blake Pieroni – 49.04

200m Freestyle
1. Jack Conger — 1:46.96
2. Conor Dwyer — 1:47.28

3. Blake Pieroni — 1:48.08
4. Zane Grothe — 1:48.18
5. Andrew Seliskar — 1:48.35

400m Freestyle
1. Zane Grothe — 3:48.59
2. Jack Levant — 3:51.47
3. Jordan Wilimovsky — 3:51.48
4. Grant Shoults — 3:51.82
5. Mitch D’Arrigo — 3:51.93

800m Freestyle
1. Zane Grothe — 7:50.94
2. Andrew Abruzzo — 7:54.51
3. Jordan Wilimovsky — 7:58.10
4. Logan Houck — 7:58.18
5. Grant Shoults — 7:58.80

1500m Freestyle
1. Zane Grothe — 15:05.31
2. Jordan Wilimovsky — 15:11.70
3. Andrew Abruzzo — 15:13.79
4. Nick Norman — 15:16.81
5. Logan Houck — 15:17.42

100m Backstroke
1. Ryan Murphy — 53.24
2. Justin Ress — 53.30
3. Matt Grevers — 53.73
4. Jacob Pebley — 53.93
5. Ryan Lochte — 54.75

200m Backstroke
1. Ryan Murphy — 1:55.46

2. Jacob Pebley — 1:55.85
3. Clark Beach — 1:58.58
4. Joey Reilman — 1:58.87
5. Nick Alexander — 1:58.97

100m Breaststroke
1. Andrew Wilson — 59.19

2. Michael Andrew — 59.79
3. Devon Nowicki — 1:00.00
4. Josh Prenot — 1:00.23
5. Will Licon — 1:00.60

200m Breaststroke
1. Andrew Wilson — 2:08.52
2. Will Licon — 2:09.47
3. Daniel Roy — 2:09.73
4. Chase Kalisz — 2:09.90
5. Josh Prenot — 2:10.15

100m Butterfly
1. Jack Conger — 51.00
2. Michael Andrew — 51.86
3. Caeleb Dressel — 52.20
4. Tripp Cooper — 52.36
5. Giles Smith — 52.55

200m Butterfly
1. Chase Kalisz — 1:55.63
2. Jack Conger — 1:55.88
3. Justin Wright — 1:57.77
4. Pace Clark — 1:57.93
5. Sam Pomajevich — 1:58.07

200m Individual Medley
1. Chase Kalisz — 1:57.50
2. Ryan Lochte — 1:58.90
3. Josh Prenot — 1:59.47
4. Will Licon — 2:00.11
5. Jay Litherland — 2:00.55

400m Individual Medley
1. Chase Kalisz — 4:08.92
2. Ryan Lochte — 4:15.80
3. Jay Litherland — 4:17.09
4. Josh Prenot — 4:18.58
5. Charlie Swanson — 4:19.38

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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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