For the first time, an Alaskan is in line to swim at the Olympics

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Olympic gold medalists and world-record holders qualified for the U.S. swim team at the Olympic Trials on Tuesday night. It looks like they’ll be joined by 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby, who would be the first Alaskan to swim at an Olympics.

Jacoby took second to the world’s top breaststroker, Lilly King, in the 100m breast in Omaha to all but clinch a spot on the team for Tokyo. It should be confirmed later in the eight-day meet that finishes Sunday, once enough swimmers qualify in multiple events so that the total roster doesn’t exceed 26 women.

“It means so much,” Jacoby said. “I’m so honored to be able to represent my state in a meet like this. I’m so excited to be able to now represent my country as well.”

All of the favorites won the four finals on Tuesday — King, Regan Smith and Ryan Murphy in the 100m backstrokes and Kieran Smith in the 200m freestyle.

Second-place finishers were unusual. Rhyan White was ranked 41st in the U.S. in the women’s 100m back in 2019. Hunter Armstrong was 19th in the men’s 100m back in 2019.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

Then there’s Jacoby, who since April 8 dropped 2.29 seconds off her personal best in a 65-second race. She swims in goggles given to her by 2012 U.S. Olympian Jessica Hardy at a USA Swimming Foundation clinic in Alaska four years ago.

She entered Trials seeded third in the nation. She now ranks second in the world this year, behind only King, the Olympic and world champion and world-record holder.

Jacoby hails from Seward, a city on Resurrection Bay, a fjord of the Gulf of Alaska. The state has one Olympic-size pool, two hours from Jacoby’s home, but they halve it save one meet a year, she said on a Swimswam podcast after her April breakout.

Jacoby, committed to swim for the University of Texas in 2022, is multi-talented. She sang and played the bass for the Snow River String Band, performing bluegrass at the Anchorage Folk Festival. Her columns for SHS Today at Seward High School included a series on the 1940s.

“I have lived in Seward my entire life but hope to live somewhere else when I grow up,” her writer bio reads. “Most of you probably know that I’m a competitive swimmer.”

During the pandemic, Jacoby’s home facility was closed for eight months. So she moved to Anchorage for the summer. She was still out of pools for two months, so she went water skiing. She skied on trails outside her front door, popping at least one headphone out to stay alert to bears and moose. When snow melted, she ran on ice cleats.

Much of this is also on Jacoby’s Wikipedia page, created on May 8.

In other events Tuesday, 19-year-old Regan Smith won the 100m back, an event where she held the world record until Sunday. Smith clocked 58.35 seconds, nine tenths off the new record set by Kaylee McKeown at the Australian Olympic Trials. White took second in 58.60, edging world bronze medalist Olivia Smoliga for the likely second Olympic spot.

World-record holder Murphy won the men’s 100m back so he can defend his Olympic title in Tokyo. Murphy prevailed by .15 over Armstrong. Matt Grevers, the 2012 Olympic champion, finished sixth in what may have been his final Olympic Trials race.

Kieran Smith became the first man to win both the 200m and 400m frees at an Olympic Trials, claiming the former in a personal-best 1:45.29. Townley Haas, who won the 2016 Olympic Trials, took second, .37 behind, to join him on the Olympic team. The medal favorites around the globe can break 1:45. Drew Kibler and Andrew Seliskar were next and qualified for their first Games in the 4x200m free relay.

In semifinals, Katie Ledecky qualified fastest into Wednesday night’s 200m freestyle final. Ledecky will swim finals in the 200m free and the 1500m free about an hour apart on Wednesday, a double that she has done at major international meets.

Luca Urlando and Zach Harting shared the top time to qualify for the first Olympic Trials 200m butterfly final without Michael Phelps since 1996. Urlando, 19 and the grandson of an Italian Olympic hammer thrower, is the fastest American since the start of 2019 by more than a second. Urlando broke Phelps’ national-age group record for 17- and 18-year-olds two years ago.

Alex Walsh, 19, was the fastest qualifier into the women’s 200m individual medley final, clocking a personal best.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo’s agency said she plans to return to sprinting, but they don’t yet have a timeline of her plans.

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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