Katie Ledecky stars on opening night in Minneapolis
Katie Ledecky outdueled Missy Franklin to win the 200m freestyle and, 45 minutes later, chopped 2.52 seconds off her 400m individual medley personal best at a Pro Swim Series meet in Minneapolis on Thursday night.
Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin all racked up top-three finishes but zero victories on the first night of the Olympic season-opening domestic meet. Full results are here.
The meet continues through Saturday, with finals at 7 p.m. ET live on USASwimming.org.
Phelps, in his first meet since winning three races at the U.S. Championships in August, finished third in the 100m butterfly in 52.99 seconds, .42 behind winner Giles Smith. Phelps, a three-time Olympic 100m fly champion, clocked a winning 52.26 in this same meet in November 2011.
Phelps, who raced with a thick black beard, said he made a mistake eating banana bread before the race.
“I had a couple pieces come up the last 50,” he told media in Minneapolis, smiling. “I thought about shaving, but I didn’t really want to. I’ve shaved once since Nationals.”
Phelps also finished 10th overall in the 200m freestyle in 1:50.39. In 2011, he won this event in Minneapolis in 1:46.88.
Phelps hasn’t been focusing on the 200m free in his comeback from a 20-month competitive retirement following the 2012 Olympics but may want to post a time to make him eligible for the 4x200m free relay at the Rio Olympics. He came to Minneapolis ranked 17th in the U.S. in the 200m free this year and did not improve on his best time of 2015.
Phelps said a main objective is to better his times with every meet in the run-up to the Olympic trials.
“If I can really, finally take what I do here and transition it into meeet by meet by meet,” he said. “That’s something that I failed at last [season]. ... I’m old now, and I get tired a lot faster.”
Lochte, who came back from injuries to win his fourth straight World title in the 200m individual medley on Aug. 6, finished second to Conor Dwyer in the 200m free on Thursday and was disqualified from the 100m butterfly final for a false start after qualifying with the second-fastest time.
“The official came over to me [after the race], and he was like, Ryan, you’re disqualified,” Lochte told media in Minneapolis. “I was like, all right. He could have told me that before the race started so I didn’t have to go through that pain.”
In the women’s 200m free, Ledecky and Franklin went one-two, followed by Olympic champion Allison Schmitt. Ledecky won in 1:55.37, a comfortable 1.36 seconds ahead of Franklin.
Ledecky’s time was .21 slower than her World title-winning time Aug. 5, which is impressive because swimmers train to peak for Worlds but certainly not for November meets.
Ledecky came back 45 minutes later for the 400m individual medley, an event she doesn’t regularly swim but said in August she was considering adding to her Olympic trials schedule and stayed coy about Thursday. She finished third in 4:39.18, behind Becca Mann and Olympian Caitlin Leverenz.
Ledecky’s previous personal best in the 400m IM was 4:41.70, which was ranked No. 9 in the U.S. this year. She improved to sixth in the U.S. this year with that finish. The top two at the Olympic trials in June make the Olympic team in the event.
In the women’s 100m butterfly, Kelsi Worrell edged Olympic champion Dana Vollmer by .16. Worrell is the fastest U.S. woman in the event this year, and Vollmer is now No. 4. Vollmer, 27, is coming back after having a baby boy March 6.