When Missy Franklin ruled the swimming pool

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Missy Franklin won four Olympic gold medals and nine world titles, all before moving into college. In 2013, she was undoubtedly the world’s premier swimmer, male or female.

The 2012 London Games, where Franklin swept the backstrokes and won two more relay golds, tell just part of her story. Franklin highlights NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week programming on Friday night. A full TV schedule is here.

Franklin, then a rising Colorado high school senior, came to those Olympics as one of three U.S. swimming superstars. The men had the Michael PhelpsRyan Lochte duel.

The women had a bubbly, worm-dancing phenom already profiled by the nation’s major media outlets. They were drawn to the story of the girl who gave up millions by choosing NCAA swimming over turning professional. Franklin won three golds at the 2011 Worlds, then showed off her driver’s license in a national TV interview.

In London, Franklin became the first U.S. woman to swim in seven events at an Olympics. She joined Amy Van Dyken as the only American women to earn four golds at a single Games across all sports. She took five medals overall and nearly made it six, missing bronze in the 200m freestyle by .01.

It was hard to believe Franklin could top it. But that’s what she did at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. Phelps was retired. Lochte was scaling back. Katie Ledecky was still on the rise. Franklin was in her own tier.

She swam a Phelpsian eight events at those worlds, withdrawing after the heats of the 50m backstroke. Franklin earned six golds and missed a seventh medal by .05 in the 100m free. She matched 1980s East German Kristin Otto for the most golds for a woman at an Olympics or a worlds.

There was more to come.

Franklin, after suffering back spasms at the biggest meet of 2014, came back for her sophomore season at Cal and shattered her American record in the 200-yard freestyle by 1.21 seconds at the last meet of her college career. It remains the oldest individual NCAA record on the books. Nobody, not even Ledecky, has come within seven tenths of breaking it.

After Franklin turned professional in 2015, she began suffering shoulder pain. It affected her before and through the Rio Olympics, where she earned one medal (gold as a prelim relay swimmer). She underwent surgeries in 2017 and, after being told she needed another operation, chose retirement in 2018.

Ledecky and Simone Manuel took the baton as the leading U.S. women. As dominant as they have been, they are strictly freestyle swimmers. Franklin, with her mastery of the backstroke and the freestyle, had her own unique repertoire that might not be replicated at that success level for many years.

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MORE: NBCSN Olympic Games Week TV schedule

Rafael Nadal to miss U.S. Open; men’s, women’s singles fields named

Rafael Nadal
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Rafael Nadal is not entered in the U.S. Open, joining the recovering Roger Federer in missing the first Grand Slam tennis tournament since the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the first time a Grand Slam tournament main draw will be missing both legends since the 1999 U.S. Open.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” was posted on Nadal’s social media. “This is a decision I never wanted to take, but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

The U.S. Open starts as scheduled Aug. 31 without fans. The rescheduled French Open, which Nadal has won a record 12 times, is scheduled to start two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Nadal did not mention in Tuesday’s statement whether he planned to play Roland Garros.

Nadal won his fourth U.S. Open in 2019, defeating Russian Daniil Medvedev in a five-set final. That moved Nadal within one Grand Slam singles title of Federer’s record 20.

Federer previously announced he is out for the rest of 2020 following a right knee procedure.

U.S. Open Entry Lists: Men | Women

The U.S. Open fields are led by top-ranked Novak Djokovic and 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams.

Other notable players not on main-draw entry lists published Tuesday: women’s No. 1 Ash Barty and 2016 U.S. Open winner Stan Wawrinka. Other than Barty, the top 28 women in the world rankings are entered, including defending champion Bianca Andreescu.

Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are the top-ranked men in the field. Djokovic and 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic are the only male Grand Slam singles champions in the field.

VIDEO: Coco Gauff delivers speech for racial justice

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Why did Shaun White cut his hair? Carrot Top

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Shaun White said a revelatory chat with Carrot Top led to the Olympic snowboarding champion chopping off his flowing red locks more than seven years ago, according to a report.

“I went to an event in Vegas where I run into Carrot Top,” White wrote, according to a Bleacher Report AMA last Wednesday. “We were talking about our hair and he basically looked at me like you could see into his soul and he basically said he was stuck like this. And at that point it was like seeing the ghost of Christmas future. And at that point I was like omg I can change.”

White documented a meeting with Carrot Top on social media in September 2013, but that was 10 months after the haircut. They must have met in 2012, too.

White, formerly known as the Flying Tomato, posted video of the haircut in December 2012, saying he didn’t tell anybody beforehand. He had grown tired of the nickname.

He donated the hair to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for needy children.

White is known for charitable efforts for children, including with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. White was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, requiring two major surgeries before his first birthday.

White, a 33-year-old who recently changed his hair color to blond, announced in February that he ended a bid to make the first U.S. Olympic skateboarding team for the Tokyo Games.

He is expected to compete for a spot in the 2022 Winter Olympics, where he could be the oldest U.S. Olympic halfpipe rider in history.

MORE: White, Shiffrin among dominant Winter Olympians of 2010s

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