Lilly King wins 100m breaststroke in world championships trials preview

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When Lilly King took bronze in the Olympic 100m breaststroke, it marked the first time another swimmer out-touched her in nearly five years in the event, snapping a 55-final win streak.

King, who then took silver in her complementary 200m breast, left Tokyo and went back to work in Indiana. It paid off on Thursday in her first meet in an Olympic-size pool since the Games.

She won the 100m breast in 1:06.24 at a Pro Series stop in Westmont, Illinois, beating a field that included surprise Olympic champion Lydia Jacoby and training partner Annie Lazor, who was fourth-fastest in the world last year. Lazor was second on Thursday, .24 behind, followed by Jacoby.

“Not too bad,” King said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “Not super aware of what was going to happen at this meet with it being our first long-course meet of the season, but I’m pretty happy with that time.”

PRO SWIM SERIES: Full Results

The results in Westmont are the best indicator so far in 2022 of prospects for the world championships trials in late April in Greensboro, N.C., where the top two per individual event are in line to qualify for June’s worlds in Budapest. However, swimmers are at different points in their training with some more rested than others.

The 100m breast is one of the strongest events for Americans with King, Jacoby and Lazor. At least one of them will not make the world team in the event.

In other Thursday finals, Katie Ledecky won the 400m freestyle in 4:01.30, distancing 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Leah Smith by 3.43 seconds. Ledecky, who after Tokyo moved from Stanford to Gainesville, Florida, last lost a domestic 400m free at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Shaine Casas won the men’s 100m free in 49.29 seconds, beating a field that included Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel (fourth in 49.54) and the other U.S. Olympian in the event, Zach Apple (fifth in 49.72).

Dressel is known for making huge time drops come major meets, so this result isn’t a major concern. His 15 fastest times ever in the 100m free came at Olympics, world championships or trials meets.

Erika Brown won a women’s 100m free that included the top four finishers from last year’s Olympic Trials. Brown, who was second at trials, clocked 54.13 to beat trials winner Abbey Weitzeil by four tenths. The field did not include 2016 Olympic champion Simone Manuel, who has not competed since the Tokyo Games, according to USA Swimming’s database.

Michael Andrew won the men’s 100m breast in 59.05, distancing Olympic teammate Nic Fink by five tenths. Andrew clocked his fastest time outside of a spring or summer meet and is a big favorite at world trials, especially given the other U.S. Olympian in the event, Andrew Wilson, retired.

The Pro Swim Series stop continues Friday, with live finals at 7 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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