Simone Manuel, Nathan Adrian win 50m freestyles at winter nationals

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Simone Manuel and Nathan Adrian, each an Olympic 100m freestyle champion, added 50m golds at winter nationals in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Manuel easily won the splash and dash by .48 of a second in 24.39. Manuel earned silver or bronze in the 50m free at the 2016 Olympics, 2017 World Championships and this past summer’s Pan Pacific Championships, the last three major international meets.

Adrian, who owns Olympic bronze and world silver in the 50m free, won winter nationals by .51 in 21.94. In the last two years, Adrian has ceded the role of top U.S. sprinter to Caeleb Dressel and failed to qualify for an individual event at 2019 Worlds, ending a 10-year streak of racing individually at major international meets.

Thursday’s final lacked Dressel and Michael Andrew, who will be racing the 50m free at 2019 Worlds.

WINTER NATS: Full Results | TV Schedule

In other events, Katie Ledecky cruised to her second win in as many nights, taking the 400m free by 9.36 seconds in 4:00.35. It’s the 19th-fastest time ever, according to USA Swimming’s database. Ledecky owns the 12 fastest times in history, starting with her world-record 3:56.46 from the Rio Olympics, and last lost a 400m free at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

“I kind of was talking to myself towards the end of that race that if I was under four minutes, that would probably be the easiest a sub-four would feel for me,” Ledecky said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “So to be almost sub-four, that’s really good for the start of the season.”

Ledecky, who routed the 800m free field Wednesday, is also entered in Friday’s 200m free and Saturday’s 100m free.

Rio Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky took the men’s 400m free in 3:50.78, adding to his 800m free title Wednesday. Wilimovsky is better at longer distances, ranked fourth in the world this year in the 800m and 1500m frees and an open-water 10km gold and silver medalist at the last two world championships.

Madisyn Cox took the women’s 200m individual medley in 2:10.76, her best time of a tumultuous 2018. The 2017 World bronze medalist missed nationals after testing positive for a banned substance due to a legal supplement that had been contaminated.

The original two-year suspension was reduced to six months after a FINA panel agreed that she did not intend to dope. Since Cox missed nationals, she also missed qualifying for the biggest international meets of 2018 and 2019, the Pan Pacific Championships three months ago and next summer’s world championships.

Cox ranks 11th in the world this year in the 200m IM and fourth among Americans behind Kathleen Baker, Melanie Margalis and Ella Eastin, who are not competing in Greensboro.

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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