Katie Ledecky swims her fastest 400m freestyle in years, while rival recovers

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Katie Ledecky had her second sizzling swim in as many days, scorching her fastest 400m freestyle since August 2018 at a Pro Series meet in Mission Viejo, California, on Saturday.

Ledecky, the Olympic champion and world-record holder, clocked 3:59.25, her fastest time in a meet this early in a year ever. A woman has broken four minutes in the 400m free a total of 25 instances in history. Ledecky was that woman on 20 of those occasions.

“That one didn’t feel as good as some of my other swims this week,” Ledecky said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, “but I’m happy with the time.”

Ledecky had an even more impressive 200m free on Friday, clocking her second-fastest time ever in that event. She has the 100m and 1500m frees on the final day of the meet Sunday (1 p.m., Olympic Channel). Meet results are here.

The 400m is the meeting place for Ledecky and her new rival, 20-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmus.

Titmus won the 2019 World title in 3:58.76 to become the second-fastest woman in history (though slower than Ledecky’s seven best times). Ledecky took silver in that race, 1.21 seconds behind, while dealing with a stomach virus that led her to withdraw from races two days later.

Titmus recently missed three months of training due to a shoulder injury, according to an Australian report on Saturday.

In other events Saturday, Brazilian veteran Bruno Fratus edged world champion Caeleb Dressel by .03 in the men’s 50m freestyle, clocking 21.80 in an Olympic selection meet for Brazil. Dressel posted the fastest time by an American this year.

Lilly King won an Olympic Trials preview in the women’s 200m breaststroke, recording 2:22.38 to hold off training partner Annie Lazor by .35. Lazor is the fastest American since the start of 2019 (2:20.77), while King is the fastest this year. The final also included the third-, fourth- and fifth-fastest Americans since the start of 2019.

Like King, Nic Fink completed a sweep of the breaststrokes in Mission Viejo, taking the men’s 200m breast in 2:09.73. It’s the fastest time by an American this year, but Fink, a 27-year-old seeking his first Olympics, still ranks third among Americans since the start of 2019. Will Licon (not in Mission Viejo) and Andrew Wilson (third on Saturday) are the top two.

Olympic champion and world-record holder Ryan Murphy took the men’s 100m backstroke in 53.11 seconds, bouncing from one side of his lane to the other and knocking the line near the finish. Murphy swam the fastest time by an American this year. Matt Grevers, the 36-year-old, 2012 Olympic champ, was eighth in 55.40 in his first Pro Series meet in 13 months.

World bronze medalist Olivia Smoliga overtook former world-record holder Kathleen Baker to win the women’s 100m back in 59.04 seconds, the fastest time by an American this year. The women’s 100m back is one of the U.S.’ deepest events. Regan Smith, who owns the world record of 57.57, is not in Mission Viejo.

World silver medalist Hali Flickinger swam the fastest 200m butterfly of an American woman in 2021 — 2:06.68 — in Friday night’s preliminary heats. She then scratched the final, won by Katie Crom in 2:10.38, to focus on the 400m free.

Rio Olympian Abbey Weitzeil won the women’s 50m free in 24.57, the fastest time by an American this year, against a field lacking Simone Manuel. Manuel, the world champion, remains the fastest American since the start of 2019 (24.05), ahead of Weitzeil (24.47).

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

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Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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