Caeleb Dressel, miserable out of the water, at last can make splashes at Olympic Trials

Caeleb Dressel
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Caeleb Dressel could win seven medals in Tokyo, but he’s not qualified for the U.S. team yet. His first chance to secure a spot comes on the fifth day of the eight-day Olympic Swimming Trials.

Dressel is the favorite in the men’s 100m freestyle, the headline final on Thursday night. All of his three primary event finals are in the back half of the schedule in Omaha.

“These meets are quite miserable when you’re not swimming, to be honest,” Dressel said after posting the fastest semifinal time Wednesday. “You’re left alone with your own thoughts.”

Dressel, intent on not being defined by swimming, could have any number of things to ponder.

In the last two years, he recorded 36 podcast episodes with friend Ben Kennedy, hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, jumped out of a plane, visited hundreds of bees, got engaged and married to Megan Haila, bought a house and built furniture for it.

Yet while in Nebraska, “The most comfortable I feel is in the water,” said Dressel, who as a 19-year-old in Rio won two relay golds.

The next four days play a significant role in determining (likely confirming) Dressel’s gold-medal chances in Tokyo. He is reigning world champion and the fastest man in history in the 50m and 100m frees (outside of the brief super-suit era a decade ago) and the 100m butterfly (broke Michael Phelps‘ world record).

His more questionable events are relays: Of the four relays that Dressel could swim in Tokyo, the U.S. lost three of them at the 2019 Worlds. But the Americans still made the podium in each one.

Dressel, who earned seven golds at the 2017 Worlds and eight medals at the 2019 Worlds (including events not on the Olympic program), could join a short list of swimmers to win seven medals at a single Games: Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi.

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

A look at tonight’s races …

Men’s 800m Freestyle FINAL — 8:05 p.m. ET
An event returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, now that the Olympic swimming program has all of the same events for men and women. Will Gallant, who this year has chopped 8.39 seconds off his personal best, qualified first into the final. He’s followed by Bobby Finke, a pre-meet favorite, and Ross Dant, who entered Olympic Trials ranked 23rd in the nation this year. While Katie Ledecky has won every Olympic and world title in this event since 2012, a U.S. man last made the podium at worlds in 2013.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke FINAL — 8:19
Josh Prenot, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, failed to qualify outright for the semifinals and then said he will be taking at least a year off from competitive swimming. Matt Fallon, an 18-year-old who entered Trials ranked seventh in the nation this year, was the surprise top qualifier into the final. He was followed immediately by the pre-meet favorites, in order of semifinal time: Nic Fink, Kevin Cordes, Will Licon, Andrew Wilson and Daniel Roy. Those top six were separated by .67 in the semis.

Women’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals — 8:30
Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel was sixth-fastest in the morning heats in her first swim of Olympic Trials. She’s joined by the other favorites, including Abbey Weitzeil, Olivia Smoliga, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan. Top eight overall to Friday’s final.

Men’s 200m Backstroke Semifinals — 8:43
Olympic champion Ryan Murphy and the top contenders are all here, including potential first-time Olympians Austin Katz and Shaine Casas.

Women’s 200m Butterfly FINAL — 8:59
Hali Flickinger, who already finished second in the 400m individual medley, was fastest by 1.16 seconds in the semis of this her primary event. No. 2 seed Regan Smith, too, is looking to make the team in a second event here after winning the 100m backstroke. Katie Drabot, 2019 World bronze medalist (Flickinger got silver), missed the final. Charlotte Hook, just .19 behind Smith in the semis, could become the fourth woman 17 or younger to be in line to make the team. The last time the U.S. had four swimmers 17 or younger at an Olympics was 2000. The last time it had four women 17 or younger was 1996, according to Olympedia.org.

Men’s 100m Freestyle FINAL — 9:09
The top two qualify for the individual Olympic 100m free. The top four make the 4x100m free relay team. Fifth and sixth are likely to get in the relay pool, too. No question Dressel is a significant favorite despite going just .01 faster than Zach Apple in the semis. This final was circled before the meet in large part to see if 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian could make the team, a year and a half after a testicular cancer diagnosis, but he was eliminated in the semis.

Women’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals — 9:19
Annie Lazor, who missed the team in the 100m breast by one spot, was fastest in prelims, by 1.72 seconds. Training partner and Olympic 100m breast champion Lilly King and Emily Escobedo, the other top contenders, were third and fourth.

Men’s 200m Individual Medley Semifinals — 9:39
Ryan Lochte, bidding at 36 to become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in history, was second-fastest in the morning prelims, 2.23 seconds behind Michael Andrew. Can Lochte get into the final and hold off 19-year-old Carson Foster (.47 behind Lochte in prelims) and 2017 World champion Chase Kalisz (.66 behind Lochte in prelims)?

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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