Caeleb Dressel

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel sizzle as world championships near

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Two of U.S. swimming’s biggest stars appear in form going into the world championships.

Katie Ledecky swam the world’s fastest 800m freestyle of 2019 at a Tyr Pro Series meet in Bloomington, Ind., on Sunday. A half-hour later in Atlanta, Caeleb Dressel clocked his fastest 100m freestyle since the summer of 2017.

It marked the last full meet for Ledecky before worlds in Gwangju, South Korea, in two months. Dressel will swim another meet in late June, his coach, Gregg Troy, said Monday.

Ledecky’s swim was a statement by virtue of the world rankings. She came to Bloomington as the world leader in the 800m, but only by four tenths of a second over Wang Jianjiahe, a 16-year-old who broke the Asian record at the Chinese Championships.

Nobody has been that close to Ledecky in her trademark event since her breakthrough 2012 Olympic title at age 15, though Ledecky and Wang have never been in the same race.

“I’m aware of what everyone else in the world is doing,” Ledecky said last month, according to the Washington Post.

Ledecky opened breathing room in Bloomington, going four seconds faster than a month ago and winning by 26 seconds against a domestic field (Ledecky swept the 200m, 400m and 800m frees over the weekend and hasn’t lost domestically in any of those events in five years). She owns the 20 fastest 800m frees in history and on Sunday clocked the seventh-fastest of that set.

It’s an opportune time to look at the world rankings in the four individual events Ledecky will swim in Gwangju:

200m Freestyle
1. Ariarne Titmus (AUS) — 1:54.30
2. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 1:55.29 (not expected to swim 200m free at worlds)
3. Katie Ledecky — 1:55.78

400m Freestyle
1. Ariarne Titmus (AUS) — 3:59.66
2. Katie Ledecky — 3:59.95
3. Li Bingjie (CHN) — 4:03.29

800m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky — 8:10.70

2. Wang Jianjiahe (CHN) — 8:14.64
3. Leah Smith (USA) — 8:16.33

1500m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky — 15:45.59
2. Wang Jianjiahe (CHN) — 15:46.69
3. Simona Quadarella (ITA) — 16:04.02

On paper, it’s the toughest competition Ledecky faces going into a major international meet since she expanded her program to include all of those events in 2014. Titmus, 18, is now the fifth-fastest 200m freestyler in history and the third-fastest in the 400m free. Wang is No. 3 all-time in the 800m and No. 6 in the 1500m.

The difficulty increases when putting history in perspective. Most elite female distance swimmers peak in their teens and, until recent years, were all but if not retired in their early 20s (Ledecky is 22).

Dressel’s performance last weekend triggered alarm bells to anybody who might have been sleeping on the man who earned a Michael Phelps-record-tying seven golds at the 2017 Worlds.

The summer of 2018 did not go to plan for Dressel, who earned two individual victories in seven tries between the two biggest meets of the year.

But in Atlanta, Dressel ran down Chase Kalisz in Saturday’s 200m butterfly, covering the last 50 meters 1.79 seconds faster than the field. Impressive for Dressel, a sprinter, to do that in an event he rarely contests and against Kalisz, the world’s greatest all-around swimmer whose primary event is the 400m individual medley.

Then on Sunday, Dressel moved from No. 27 to No. 4 in the world this year in the 100m freestyle. His 47.86 was his fastest 100m free since the 2017 Worlds, when Dressel recorded the three fastest 100m free times in American history.

The 2019 world rankings in Dressel’s primary events show that he, like Ledecky, could be in for a fight to repeat his 2017 medal haul:

50m Freestyle
1. Bruno Fratus (BRA) — 21.47
2. Ben Proud (GBR) — 21.48
3. Andrea Vergani (ITA) — 21.53
6. Caeleb Dressel — 21.69 (Dressel did not swim the 50m free in Atlanta)

100m Freestyle
1. Vladislav Grinev (RUS) — 47.43
2. Kyle Chalmers (AUS) — 47.48
3. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) — 47.68
4. Caeleb Dressel (USA) — 47.86

100m Butterfly
1. Mehdy Metella (FRA) — 50.85
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) — 51.25
3. Sebastian Sabo (HUN) — 51.34
5. Caeleb Dressel — 51.41

Dressel’s winning times from 2017 Worlds in those three events were all significantly faster than Fratus, Grinev and Metella’s top times for 2019, but smart swimmers will be peaking in July and not at spring meets.

In other events Sunday, Annie Lazor continued her tear by clocking 2:20.77 in Bloomington’s 200m breaststroke and becoming the second-fastest American in history behind two-time Olympic champion Rebecca Soni.

Lazor, a 24-year-old who was seventh at the 2016 Olympic Trials, chopped 3.65 seconds off her personal best in the last 10 months. She leads the 2019 world rankings ahead of world champion Yuliya Yefimova of Russia. But Lazor did not qualify for the world championships team last summer.

Nathan Adrian ended his first meet since testicular cancer treatment (which included two surgeries) with a third-place finish in Sunday’s 50m freestyle. Adrian, a five-time Olympic champion, was fourth in the 100m free on Friday.

“I don’t really know what to make of the times, but in terms of my stroke, that felt better than I expected it to feel,” Adrian told Swimswam.com.

MORE: Olympic breaststroke champion faces ban for missed drug tests

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Katie Ledecky headlines TYR Pro Swim Series this week

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The third leg of the TYR Pro Swim Series this week offers another opportunity for Katie Ledecky domination.

The five-time Olympic gold medalist is slated to swim on all four days of competition in Richmond, Virginia, starting with the 800m free on Wednesday. She will not swim the 1500 free on Saturday, an event in which she owns the world record and nine of the 10 fastest times ever recorded, but is currently expected to compete in all of the other freestyle events (including the 50 free, which she rarely swims).

Ledecky has had an eventful year – she announced her decision to turn pro in March 2018, forgoing her final two years of eligibility at Stanford. She then broke her own world record in the 1500 free by exactly five seconds in her first event as a pro swimmer at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis last May. Ledecky, who still studies and trains at Stanford, competed earlier this season at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tennessee, winning four events (400 IM, 200 free, 400 free and 1500 free).

The field in Richmond will include several other Olympic gold medalists, including Simone ManuelCaeleb Dressel and Ryan Murphy. The field will also include 19-year-old Michael Andrew, a breakout star last season who won five events at the most recent TYR Pro Swim Series event in Des Moines. Swimmers continue to train for July’s World Championships in South Korea, so they aren’t likely to post their best times at this point in the season.

Coverage of the series will air live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, with encore presentations on NBCSN both days.

 

How to watch overall World Cup champ Mikaela Shiffrin ski this weekend

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It would seem Mikaela Shiffrin picked the best weekend of the season to take a break after every scheduled event in Sochi, Russia last week had to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Shiffrin, while training in Italy ahead of this week’s events in the Czech Republic, was still able to make headlines, when her World Cup points total allowed her to clinch her third-consecutive overall title. She has also clinched her fourth-straight slalom crystal globe, and sixth overall, after taking an insurmountable 203-point lead in the standings. 

The women’s World Cup will attempt to get back to racing on Friday with the first run of the giant slalom scheduled for 4:30 a.m. ET. Watch the first run live on OlympicChannel.com or with an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass. The second run can be seen live on TV and streaming on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold.

After crisscrossing the globe, the ISU Speed Skating World Cup winds up in Utah for the final event of the season. The U.S.’ Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia, both recently crowned world champions, will close out their seasons on home ice at the site of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

For Bowe, she returns to the track where she set the world record in the 1000m not once, but twice in her career, and is closing out a season where she has landed on 12 World Cup podiums.

Watch speed skating from Salt Lake City beginning on Friday at 11:00 p.m. on TV on Olympic Channel.  

If you’re looking to thaw out from all the winter sports action, some of the best international swimmers in the world convene in Des Moines at the second stop on the TYR Pro Swim Series. Look for the U.S.’ 2016 Olympic gold medalists Caeleb Dressel and Kathleen Baker to be in the pool in Iowa. Watch the first of three days of swimming in primetime beginning on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET on TV and streaming on Olympic Channel.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic; Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
12:00 p.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2)* NBCSN
Saturday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) DELAYED start at 8:30 a.m. Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2)* NBCSN
Sunday 4:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day delay

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Whistler, British Columbia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 12:00 p.m. Men’s Skeleton (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
1:45 p.m. Men’s Skeleton (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
3:30 p.m. Women’s Skeleton (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
5:00 p.m. Women’s Skeleton (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Men’s and Women’s Skeleton Day 1* NBCSN
Friday 12:00 p.m. Men’s Skeleton (Run 3) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
1:45 p.m. Men’s Skeleton (Final Run) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
3:30 p.m. Women’s Skeleton (Run 3) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
5:00 p.m. Women’s Skeleton (Final Run) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
8:00 p.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 1) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
9:30 p.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 2) NBCSN NBCSN
Saturday 8:00 p.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 3) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
9:30 p.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Final Run) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

BIATHLON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Oestersund, Sweden

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 10:15 a.m. Mixed Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Mixed Relay* NBCSN
Friday 10:15 a.m. Women’s 7.5km Sprint Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Women’s 7.5km Sprint* NBCSN
Saturday 10:30 a.m. Men’s 10km Sprint Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 8:45 a.m. Women’s 10km Pursuit Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
11:30 a.m. Men’s 12.5km Pursuit Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day delay

CROSS-COUNTRY WORLD CUP — Oslo, Norway

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 4:00 a.m. Men’s 50km Mass Start Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 6:45 a.m. Women’s 30km Mass Start OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Women’s 30km Mass Start* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

FENCING GRAND PRIX — Cairo, Egypt; Budapest, Hungary

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 9:00 a.m. From Cairo, Egypt* Olympic Channel
Sunday 4:00 p.m. From Budapest, Hungary OlympicChannel.com

*Pre-recorded

FREESKI AND SNOWBOARDING TOYOTA U.S. GRAND PRIX — Mammoth Lakes, California

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 12:30 p.m. Snowboarding: Slopestyle NBCSports.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Freeski: Halfpipe NBCSports.com/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 12:30 a.m. Freeski: Halfpipe* NBCSN
12:30 p.m. Freeski: Slopestyle NBCSports.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Snowboarding: Halfpipe NBCSports.com/NBC Sports Gold
11:30 p.m. Snowboarding: Slopestyle* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP — Oslo, Norway

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 3:00 a.m. Men’s HS134 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Men’s 10km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

SKI JUMPING WORLD CUP RAW AIR TOURNAMENT — Oslo, Norway

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 1:30 p.m. Men’s Qualifying OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 8:30 a.m. Men’s Team OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. Men’s Team* Olympic Channel
Sunday 5:00 a.m. Women’s Individual OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. Men’s Individual OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. Women’s Individual* Olympic Channel
4:30 p.m. Men’s Individual* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

SNOWBOARDING WORLD CUP — Scuol, Switzerland

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:30 a.m. Parallel Giant Slalom OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

SPEED SKATING WORLD CUP — Salt Lake City, Utah

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 2:20 p.m. World Cup Final Day 1 NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. World Cup Final Day 1* Olympic Channel
Sunday 3:15 p.m. World Cup Final Day 2 NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. World Cup Final Day 2* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

SHORT TRACK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Sofia, Bulgaria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 8:00 a.m. Day 2 NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel
Sunday 8:00 a.m. Day 3 NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. Day 3* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

TYR PRO SWIM SERIES — Des Moines, Iowa

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 8:00 p.m. Day 1 Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
Friday 1:00 a.m. Day 1* NBCSN
8:00 p.m. Day 2 NBCSN NBCSports.com
Saturday 8:00 p.m. Day 3 NBCSports.com

*Next-day delay