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What a comeback: Manuel wins at trials, Adrian falls short

What a comeback: Manuel wins at trials, Adrian falls short

OMAHA, Neb. — When Simone Manuel whipped around to see the “1” beside her name, months of emotions came pouring out.She closed her eyes, brought her hands together in prayer and struggled to hold back the tears.Abbey Weitzeil, the woman she had just beaten, plunged over the lane rope with a huge smile — so happy for her friend that she didn’t mind settling for the runner-up spot Sunday.Everyone in the stands leaped to their feet, saluting Manuel’s perseverance with an ovation that rocked the arena in downtown Omaha.Days after revealing she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome, Manuel provided the most stirring moment of the entire U.S. Olympic swimming trials on its final night by winning the chaotic 50-meter freestyle.“When I touched the wall, I was literally like, ‘Please, God, please!’” she said.It was all or nothing for Manuel, whose Olympic hopes came down to a frenzied dash from one end of the pool to the other.She got there first, locking up a trip to Tokyo and the chance to make more history — five years after becoming the first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming.“More than anything, I’m relieved,” she said. “Today may have been the longest day of my life and the longest 50 of my life.”While Manuel is heading back to the Olympics, Nathan Adrian’s bid for a fourth appearance at the Summer Games came up just short when he finished third in the men’s 50 free.Caeleb Dressel tied his American record with another dominating performance, touching about a half-body length ahead of Michael Andrew in 21.04 seconds.Get ready, Tokyo. Dressel will have three individual races at the Olympics, not to mention at least three relays.Plenty of chances to live up the hype as America’s next great men’s swimming star after the retirement of Michael Phelps.“This is brutal, the pressure. I like it,” Dressel said. “I’m happy we executed well and in a month we get to go have some more fun.”Andrew earned his third individual event at the Olympics by touching second in 21.48, while Adrian was next at 21.73.Dressel hopped on the lane rope and splashed the water, while a gracious Adrian came over to congratulate the winner.The 32-year-old Adrian beat testicular cancer and arrived at Omaha as a new father. He hoped to cap the tumultuous journey with a fourth Olympics, but the eight-time medalist failed to qualify for the final of the 100 free and wasn’t quite fast enough over one lap, either.That’s OK.He was eager to cradle his 4-month-old daughter, Parker.“My heart kind of explodes just thinking about it,” Adrian said. “I’m so excited go hang out with her and hold her. I’ve got a lot to look forward to when I get home.”Bobby Finke won the final event of the trials, romping to victory in the 1,500 freestyle in 14 minutes, 46.06 seconds. He was about a half-lap ahead of runner-up Michael Brinegar, who touched in 15:00.87 and also is Tokyo-bound.Finke doubled up his Olympic racing schedule after previously winning the 800 free, posting a career best and the fourth-fastest time in the world this year in the 1,500.“That time means a lot,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to drop in that race for a couple of years now. I’m going to go to Tokyo and try to improve my time.”But this night was all about Manuel.Her dreams were seemingly dashed when she failed to even qualify for the final of the 100 free, the event she won at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.After that disappointing performance, she opened up about the struggles she’s been going through. With her body aching, Manuel was diagnosed in March with the condition commonly known as burnout, forcing her to suspend training for three weeks.The layoff came at the worst possible time, with the Olympic trials right around the corner, and Manuel was clearly not at her best in her first event of the week.As it turned out, opening up about her condition — and receiving so much support and encouragement from teammates, fans and people she’s never met — seemed to be greatest salve.“I definitely think sharing that information allowed me to swim more free,” Manuel said. “I have a lot of hard work in the bank.”It paid off when Manuel furiously covered the length of the pool in 24.29 to edge Weitzeil by one-hundredth of a second.Weitzeil had already had locked up her spot on the team with a victory in the 100 free, and the second-place showing ensured she’ll also swim the 50 in Tokyo.No one in the arena was pulling harder for Manuel than the woman swimming in the lane right next to her.“I told her before we walked out, ‘We’re coming out together,'” Weitzeil said. “During the race, I saw her right there. I was like, ‘Yes! Let’s go! C’mon!’ That’s what I was thinking the whole time”Manuel can’t wait to get to another Olympics. She won’t get a chance to defend her groundbreaking title from Rio, but she’s got no complaints after the past few months.“Even though I didn’t make it in the 100, my goal was to make to the team,” he said. “I’ll have to regroup and hopefully swim faster so I can win a medal for Team USA.”I’m glad I can walk away with my head held high.”———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Night of the stars: Dressel, Ledecky keep winning at trials

Night of the stars: Dressel, Ledecky keep winning at trials

OMAHA, Neb. — America’s biggest swimming stars shined brightly on the next-to-last night of the Olympic trials.Their only complaint? Both wanted to go a bit faster Saturday.Caeleb Dressel added another event to his Tokyo program, powering to a dominating victory in the 100-meter butterfly.Katie Ledecky blew away the field in the 800 freestyle, winning by more than 5 seconds in a race where the battle for second provided the only drama.Ledecky locked up her fourth individual race at the Olympics with a time of 8 minutes, 14.62 seconds, adding to her victories in the 200, 400 and 1,500 free.Leading right from the start, Ledecky was essentially racing herself. She started out under world-record pace but tailed off when it quickly became clear no one could beat her.“It’s challenging,” she said of being so far ahead of the field. “Sometimes I feel like I’m going faster than I am.”Ledecky finished more than 10 seconds off her world-record performance at the Rio Olympics.“It was a fine swim,” she said. “I thought I’d be a lot better than that given how good my prelim swim felt.”Fifteen-year-old Katie Grimes outraced veteran Haley Anderson for the second spot at the Olympics, knocking more than 11 seconds off her personal best to touch second in 8:20.36.Anderson, who already made the Olympic team in marathon swimming, just missed out on a race at the pool. She finished 15-hundredths of a second behind the youngster after a race covering 16 laps.”Speechless,” said Grimes, who races for a club in Nevada. “I wasn’t expecting that. I just wanted to finish it. I’m so honored to be in this meet, to be going to Tokyo.”In an interesting twist, Grimes is the same age as Ledecky was when she won her first Olympic gold with a surprising victory in the 800 free at the 2012 London Olympics.“To be able to be on the team with her,” Grimes said, “is gonna be awesome.”As with Ledecky, no one was even close to Dressel as he finished the fly in 49.87 — just off his world record of 49.50 set two years ago at the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.No world records have been set through the first seven days of the U.S. trials. Dressel thought he had a shot in the fly.“I would’ve liked to have been faster to put on a little bit of a show for the crowd,” he said.No complaints, though.“This meet has gone as according to plan as it could have,” he said.Tom Shields claimed the second spot on the U.S. team by touching next in 51.19. Shields was an Olympian in 2016, taking gold as part of the 4×100 medley relay.Dressel, who had already made the Olympic team with a victory in the 100 freestyle, made it 2-for-2 on the night when he returned a short time later to win his heat in the semifinals of the 50 free.Dressel is hoping to swim three individuals events in Tokyo and perhaps all four relays, giving him a shot at joining Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi as the only swimmers to win seven swimming medals at the Olympics.At the last world championships, Dressel became only the second swimmer after Phelps to win eight medals at a major international competition. The 24-year-old Floridian claimed six golds and two silvers, though two of those were in non-Olympic events.He said there’s room for improvement in the 100 fly.“I was a little too excited coming home,” he said. “I was a little sloppy at the end.”With Phelps now retired, the burden is on Dressel and Ledecky to step up at these pandemic-delayed Olympics.Grimes wasn’t the night’s only surprise. Regan Smith, who has already won the 100 back, faded to third in the 200 back to miss out on a second individual event in Tokyo.Rhyan White took the victory in 2:05.73, with 18-year-old Phoebe Bacon claiming the second spot in 2:06.46.Smith finished third in 2:06.79, more than 3 seconds off her personal best.White and Bacon are both headed to the Olympics for the first time.Two Olympic veterans bounced back from disappointing performances to keep their Tokyo hopes alive.Simone Manuel, who revealed that she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome after failing to advance from the semifinals of the 100 free, moved on to the final of the 50 free with the third-fastest time (24.50).“I’m just trying to race as best as I possibly can with whatever my body has,” Manuel said. “I’m a person that fights to the end. I’ll never know what the 50 is going to be if I don’t go out there and give it a try.”Nathan Adrian is facing the same predicament in the men’s 50 free after failing to qualify in the 100.The eight-time Olympic medalist was third-fastest in the semifinals at 21.78, trailing only Dressel (21.51) and Michael Andrew (21.55).Adrian must finish in the top two in Sunday final to make his fourth Olympic team.The first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, Manuel won’t get a chance to defend her historic title in the 100. But revealing her health and mental struggles relieved some of the pressure she was feeling coming into the trials.“I’ve gotten a lot of nice messages and responses from people,” Manuel said. “It makes me think that I’m not alone.”She added, “I just want to see whatever I’ve got. I want to walk away with my head held high after this meet.”Abbey Weitzeil was fastest in the women’s 50 free, posting a personal best of 24.27 to take the top seed into the final. She already won the 100 free at these trials.“I’m super excited. I haven’t done a best time since 2015,” the 24-year-old Californian said. “I was really shocked when I saw the screen, but I can’t let my guard down.”———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Dressel wins, but Manuel fails to advance in swim stunner

Dressel wins, but Manuel fails to advance in swim stunner

OMAHA, Neb. — Caeleb Dressel locked up his spot for Tokyo, where he’s expected to be one of the biggest stars in the Olympic pool.Simone Manuel got left behind.In the biggest surprise yet at the U.S. swimming trials, the defending Olympic women’s champion in the 100-meter freestyle stunningly failed to advance from the semifinals Thursday night.Manuel, who tied for the gold at the Rio Olympics to become the first Black female ever to win an individual swimming event, finished fourth in the first semifinal heat at 54.17 seconds.She just missed a spot in Friday night’s final when five swimmers went faster in the second semifinal heat.Erika Brown took the eighth spot in 54.15 — two-hundredths faster than Manuel, who revealed that she was diagnosed in March with overtraining syndrome and had to totally shut down for three weeks.“I’m an Olympic champion,” a tearful Manuel said, seeking solace in her 2016 accomplishments. “It’s still a tough pill to swallow.”There were no such concerns for Dressel, who romped to victory in the men’s 100 free in 47.39.He finally got a chance to shine on Day 5 of the trials after a long week of waiting. When Dressel saw a “1” beside his name, he hopped on the lane rope, splashed the water and pumped his arms to whip up the crowd.“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” Dressel said. “I’m excited to get the job done and move forward.”In the wake of Michael Phelps’ retirement, Dressel has emerged as the next big thing in men’s swimming. After winning two golds medals at the 2016 Rio Games, he really shined at the last two world championships.In 2017, Dressel captured seven gold medals in Budapest — joining Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to win that many races at a major international meet.Dressel followed up with six golds and two silvers at the 2019 championships in Gwangju, becoming only the second swimmer to take as many as eight medals after Phelps.A giant picture of Dressel adorns the outside of the downtown Omaha arena where the trials are being held.“All the fluff that comes with it, your name on the building, is cool,” he said. “But it adds a little bit different pressure to it.”While Dressel isn’t expected to swim enough events in Tokyo to challenge Phelps’ record of eight golds from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he could be in the mix for as many seven if he’s included on all the relays.Dressel isn’t thinking that far ahead. He’s still got two more individual events at the trials, and he’s heavily favored in both.“You can’t win five, six or seven medals if you don’t qualify for the events,” he said. “I’m focused on qualifying right now.”A fading star of the American team is still in the running for Tokyo.Thirty-six-year-old Ryan Lochte advanced to the final of the 200 individual medley, his only realistic chance to qualify for his fifth Olympics and redeem himself for the embarrassment of Rio, where he lied about being robbed at gunpoint during a boisterous night on the town.But Lochte has his work cut out for him. Michael Andrew dominated the semifinals with a time of 1:55.26 — fastest in the world this year. Lochte was the sixth-fastest qualifier at 1:58.65, nearly 3 1/2 seconds behind Andrew.Only the top two will make the Olympic team Friday.At least Lochte got to the final.Manuel’s failure to advance in the 100 free means she won’t be in the mix for the relays, either. She still has a chance to qualify for the team in the 50 free — an event she took silver in at Rio as part of a four-medal haul.Overcome by emotions, Manuel said she arrived in Omaha knowing it would be a struggle just to make the team because of health and emotional issues. She conceded that the racial turmoil since George Floyd’s death took a toll on her.“That’s what’s giving me peace,” she said. “I know I did everything I possibly could to even be here, and that makes me proud. I continued to stay strong during this process even when there were times when I wanted to give up.”Natalie Hinds and Olivia Smoliga were the top qualifiers in 53.55.In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Nic Fink made the Olympics for the first time at age 27, winning with a time of 2:07.55 in a 1-2 finish with club teammate Andrew Wilson.Fink failed to finish in the top two at either the 2012 or 2016 trials, and he had another heartbreak with a third-place showing in the 100 breast this year.Now, finally, he’s got his long-sought spot on the Olympic team.“It’s something I can’t really describe,” Fink said. “Relief is only the beginning of what I’m feeling right now.”Wilson, who swims with Fink on the Athens Bulldog Swim Club in Georgia, earned a likely second individual event at the Tokyo Games with a runner-up finish in 2:08.32. Wilson also finished second in the 100 breast.Kevin Cordes, who made the 2016 Olympic team in both breaststroke events, came up short this time. He was a distant fourth, nearly 2 seconds behind Wilson.Hali Flickinger won the 200 butterfly to expand her program for Tokyo. She already had a runner-up finish in the 400 individual medley at these trials.Flickinger finished seventh in the 200 fly at the Rio Olympics. She’s hoping to contend for a medal after moving to Arizona to swim for Bob Bowman, who was Phelps’ longtime coach.“It’s helped tremendously, and my swimming is really showing that,” Flickinger said. “I love the group that I train with every single day, along with Bob. I’m really grateful.”The U.S. team added another first-time Olympian when Bobby Finke of Clearwater, Florida won the men’s 800 freestyle, an event that will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo.He covered 16 laps in 7:48.22, holding off runner-up Michael Brinegar (7:49.94). Ross Dant just missed an Olympic spot, finishing a mere 72-hundredths behind Brinegar in a thrilling finish.Olympic gold medalists Ryan Murphy and Lilly King were top qualifiers in their semifinals events.Murphy led the way in the 200 backstroke at 1:55.60, setting him up for another Olympic event after his win in the 100 back. He was a double gold-medalist in those races at Rio, and the American men haven’t lost a backstroke event since the 1992 Barcelona Games.Likewise, it was King advancing in the 200 breaststroke at 2:22.73, which she hopes to add to her Olympic schedule after winning the 100 breast.———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

2 for 2: Ledecky wins her shortest, longest races at trials

2 for 2: Ledecky wins her shortest, longest races at trials

OMAHA, Neb. — The long and short of it was not an issue for Katie Ledecky.On another memorable night for the American swimming star, Ledecky won the 200-meter freestyle and the historic 1,500 free about 70 minutes apart at the U.S. Olympic trials Wednesday, locking up two more individual events for the Tokyo Games.This was about as tough as it gets.First, a relative sprint over four laps — the shortest event on Ledecky’s program.Then, a grueling metric mile comprising 30 laps — the longest race in pool swimming and one that will be making its Olympic debut for the women in Tokyo.Her short time between races was chaotically choreographed to keep Ledecky as fresh as possible for the 1,500.“The goal was to get in the warm-down pool as quickly as I could,” she said. “I tried to keep moving, hydrated and swam for 15-20 minutes before they pulled me to go back to the awards (ceremony). I ate a banana, drank chocolate milk and water, put a jacket on as I was walking.”It worked out just fine.The 24-year-old from the nation’s capital touched the wall far ahead of everyone else with a winning time of 15 minutes, 40.50 seconds — well off her 2018 world record (15:20.48) but fastest in the world this year.Ledecky has already pondered the significance of the inaugural women’s 1,500 free at the Olympics.About time, she said.“The men have had the mile in the Olympics since 1908,” Ledecky pointed out. “It’s 2021, and we finally got one.”Erica Sullivan was nearly a half-lap behind, but she knocked more than 4 seconds off her personal best to take the expected second Olympic berth in 15:51.18.The 200 free was one of four gold medals that Ledecky won at the Rio Games. She’ll get a chance to defend that title after winning in 1:55.11, a full body length ahead of the field.Allison Schmitt, who won the event at the 2012 London Games, is headed to her fourth Olympics at age 31 after holding off Paige Madden by one-hundredth of a second for the runner-up spot behind Ledecky.Schmitt’s time was 1:56.79, which gives her a likely individual event in Tokyo as well as a spot on the 4×200 free relay. Madden and Katie McLaughlin, who was fourth in 1:57.16, will also be going to the Olympics as relay swimmers.As Schmitt crossed the deck, her longtime teammate and good friend Michael Phelps raced down from the stands to give her a long embrace. Both swimmers have disclosed their struggles with depression even while performing brilliantly in the pool.“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Schmitt said. “He’s been a brother inside the pool and outside the pool. It helped me so much. Even now, when he’s not swimming, he’s a huge part of it.”Ledecky already won the 400 free, though she wasn’t as fast as expected. She’s also heavily favored in the 800 free, another race she won at Rio, which means she could swim as many as four individual events and perhaps a couple of relays at the Tokyo Games.Ledecky did confirm that she’s scratched the 100 free.She’s already got enough on her Olympic plate.“Katie is amazing,” Schmitt said.In other races on the fourth night of the trials, Zach Harting earned his first trip to the Olympics with a victory in the men’s 200 butterfly, while Alex Walsh won a thrilling race in the women’s 200 individual medley — the top three were separated by just four-hundredths of a second.Harting, a 23-year-old from Huntsville, Alabama, won with a time of 1:55.06 after a restless night.“I couldn’t sleep last night, woke up before my alarm, heart pounding out of my chest, crazy adrenaline,” he said. “I wanted to puke all through warm-up, still kind of want to do that. I don’t think I really handled it well, but I knew I was going to win so that kind of gave me a little bit of peace.”Harting is already making plans to get the customary Olympic rings tattoo.“Coming in here and not making the team was not an option,” he said. “I don’t know if I could have handled it, so the easiest thing to do was make the team and that’s what I did.”Gunnar Bentz, who was among the swimmers involved in Ryan Lochte’s infamous night in Rio five years ago, touched after Harting in 1:55.34 and will get the expected second spot in the event.Walsh won in 2:09.30, followed by Kate Douglass at 2:09.32 and Madisyn Cox in 2:09.34.Douglass will get the expected second spot on the Olympic team, while Cox endured another heartbreak after finishing fourth in two events at the 2016 trials.Walsh and Douglass give the American team two more first-time Olympians.“I’m in shock,” Walsh said.Eighteen-year-old Torri Huske, who already made the team in the 100 butterfly, got off a blistering start in her signature stroke but couldn’t hold on. She faded to fourth.Ledecky is one of at least two swimmers the Americans are counting on to be big stars at these Olympics, the first since 1996 that won’t include Phelps. He retired after Rio with a record 23 gold medals and 28 medals overall.The other is Caeleb Dressel, who was top qualifier in the semifinals of the 100 free with a time of 47.77.Nathan Adrian, an eight-time Olympic medalist who won the 100 free at the 2012 Olympics and captured a bronze in Rio, failed to even qualify for the final after finishing sixth in his heat and 13th overall at 48.92.Adrian, who overcame testicular cancer and is now married with an infant daughter, conceded that it was hard to maintain the sort of focus he needed at age 32.“When I had a bad practice before, it was a little bit of a dagger in the heart. I would be very, very affected by that,” he said. “Now, I just want to go home and immediately give my wife and baby a hug and a kiss.“In so many indescribable ways, this is such an all-in sport. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick two good swims out there.”———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———More AP Olympic coverage: https://apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

The Lilly King Show: Swimmer bringing brash talk to Tokyo

The Lilly King Show: Swimmer bringing brash talk to Tokyo

OMAHA, Neb. — The Lilly King Show is headed to Tokyo.No subject is off limits.Drug cheats? Ban ’em from the pool.The Aussies? They better be prepared to settle for a whole bunch of silvers.In a sport where most athletes obediently stay in their lane, in and out of the pool, King is willing to speak her mind on pretty much any subject that comes her way.For the American swimming star, this is nothing unusual. As long as she can remember, King has never been too concerned about rubbing others the wrong way.“I was always just very myself, and just really genuinely didn’t care what other people thought of me,” King said with a smile.“The people she’s been around a lot, from her parents to her coaches, have never stifled her voice,” added coach Ray Looze. “Even when it wasn’t the best voice or maybe the best opinion out there, I think we just let her be herself.”As far back as middle school, the 24-year-old from Indiana recalled: “All the girls were getting on-brand clothes and shoes, right? And I would purposely get the off brand and my mom was like, ‘Oh, thank God.’”At her first Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, King made it clear she didn’t want to race anyone who had served a ban for doping — a stance that was aimed squarely at top rival Yulia Efimova.King remains one of the most prominent faces in the clean-sport movement, but she stirred up another tempest at this year’s U.S. Olympic trials by boldly predicting the American women could win every individual gold medal at the Tokyo Games.Clearly, that didn’t sit well with a stellar group of Australian female swimmers, who have broken one world record and posted dazzling times in several other events at their trials Down Under.King scoffs at those who wish she would keep her mouth shut. She figures some good-natured trash talk can only stir up more interest in a staid, monotonous sport that fades from the spotlight in non-Olympic years.“I feel like this has been blown up a little bit,” she said. “Pretty much all I said is that I believe in our team and that we have the possibility and the chance to win all the gold medals.”They’re having a really fast trials and we’re having a really fast trials, so we’ll meet up in Tokyo and see what happens.”With the retirement of Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, there’s clearly the need for a charismatic figure to lead swimming into a new era in the United States.Based on pure performance, Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel are likely to be the biggest U.S. stars in Tokyo. But neither seems all that interested in seizing the spotlight, a role that King is willing to fill.“It’s great being one of the leaders,” she said. “That’s kind of a role I always wanted to be.”She certainly leads by example, showing an envious knack for being at her best when the stakes are at their highest.In Rio, King bluntly said Efimova should have not been allowed to swim at the Olympics after serving a 16-month doping ban and coming back with another positive test — particularly in light of the widespread cheating within the Russian sports program.She even wagged a finger at Efimova in the ready room.With all eyes on the brash American, she soundly defeated Efimova in the final of the 100-meter breaststroke, touching the wall more than a half-second ahead of the Russian star.“The greater the stakes, the more the pressure, the happier she is,” Looze said. “If she gets to race somebody that’s a threat, she gets super-excited and that’s when you’ll see the best come out of Lilly.”Since her victory at Rio, King has basically been unbeatable in the 100 breast, adding two world championships to her medal haul.She qualified for her second Olympics with a comfortable victory at the U.S. trials Tuesday night, sending her to Tokyo as the overwhelming favorite to repeat as the gold medalist and give the Americans a good shot at defending their title in the 400 medley relay.King hopes to be more competitive in the 200 breast. She qualified for the event in Rio but failed to make it out of the semifinals.While the shorter breaststroke event will always be her baby, King now feels much more capable of contending for a medal in the 200.First up, she has to qualify at the trials. The event begins Thursday, with King going in as the No. 2 seed behind Annie Lazor.“I was a child in Rio,” King said. “I’m feeling a much more confident and definitely have been focusing a lot more on the 200. I’m not saying my focus has shifted from the 100, but I’m feeling a lot more prepared and lot more confident going in this time around.”At the news conference after her victory in the 100 breast, King shared the dais with the backstroke winner, 19-year-old Regan Smith.Someone asked the Olympic rookie what she thought of Australia’s Kaylee McKeown breaking her world record in the 100 back.“I was honestly very happy for her. I mean, she’d been very close to it multiple times, and so it was cool to see her grab it,” Smith said. “We don’t know each other super well, but I always send her a congratulatory text.”King mockingly scoffed at the gesture.“Aren’t you a nice kid?” she said, grinning.Clearly, Smith’s trash-talk game needs a lot of work.Maybe she should tune in to The Lilly King Show.———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Backing up the talk: Outspoken King wins at US swim trials

Backing up the talk: Outspoken King wins at US swim trials

OMAHA, Neb. — Lilly King always seems to back up her big talk.King is headed back to the Olympics after a victory in the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. swimming trials Tuesday night, ensuring she will have another huge platform in Tokyo to rip into drug cheats and muse on pretty much anything else that pops into her mind.“It’s kind of what I expected,” King said.The entire night went largely as expected. Defending Olympic champion Ryan Murphy and former world record-holder Regan Smith claimed the 100 backstroke events.National team newcomer Kieran Smith added a second race to his Tokyo program with a victory in the 200 freestyle, two days after his triumph in the 400 free.Katie Ledecky cruised through her busiest day of the trials as the top qualifier in a pair of events.A world record-holder and another of the biggest trials favorites, King powered to the finish of the 100 breast, her head furiously bobbing up and down as she drove to the wall in 1 minute, 4.79 seconds.The 24-year-old from Evansville, Indiana, got a bit of a challenge from Lydia Jacoby, who locked up the expected second spot on the Olympic team by finishing next in 1:05:28.This would be Jacoby’s first Olympics.“I was not expecting Lydia to have that incredible race,” King said. “I’m really excited to have a new partner going into Tokyo.”In addition to her well-documented complaints about doping within the sport, King has boldly predicted the American women are capable of winning every individual event in Tokyo — a comment that will surely stir passions in the expected rivalry with the Australians.“It’s the same race we’ve always had: USA vs. Australia,” King said. “I know they’re swimming really fast at their trials, but so are we.”Murphy is going back to the Olympics to defend America’s dominance in the men’s backstroke.The 25-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, held on to win the 100 back — the first of two spots he hopes to claim in his bid to pull off another backstroke sweep at the Tokyo Games.“I got through it,” Murphy said. “It’s really exciting to be going back to another Olympics.”He won both the 100 and 200 in Rio, extending a U.S. winning streak in the men’s events that began after the 1992 Barcelona Games — three years before Murphy was born.His winning time was 52.33.Matt Grevers, who won the 100 back at the 2012 London Games and just missed qualifying for the U.S. team five years ago, failed again in what was surely his final bid to make his third Olympics.The 36-year-old finished sixth in 53.27. He lingered on the deck for a few extra seconds, acknowledging the cheers of the socially distanced crowd.The expected second spot on the Olympic team went to Hunter Armstrong (52.48).One of the oldest swimmers at the trials, Grevers called it “a changing of the guard.” He can still be proud of a career that included four gold medals and two silvers at the Olympics.“The young guys guys going 52s at this meet is pretty awesome,” Grevers said.On the women’s side, Regan Smith claimed her first Olympic berth in the 100 back.The 19-year-old from Lakeville, Minnesota, touched first in 58.35, not as fast as her then-record time at the 2019 world championships (57.57), but surely good enough to set her up as one of the gold medal contenders in Tokyo.“The American backstroke is a powerhouse,” Smith said. “We have so much depth. I knew it was going to be extremely tough to come out on top.”Rhyan White is also likely to be Tokyo-bound after finishing second in 58.60.Kieran Smith, who has never even been on the national team (and is no relation to Regan Smith), continued his breakout performance in Omaha.The 21-year-old native of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who attends the University of Florida, added to his victory in the 400 free with a winning time of 1:45.29 in the 200.Townley Haas, who finished fifth in the 200 free at the Rio Games, earned a sure spot in the 4×200 free relay and a likely individual race as the second American by taking the runner-up spot in 1:45.66.Drew Kibler and Andrew Seliskar finished third and fourth, respectively, to also earn Olympic berths as relay swimmers.Coming off a relatively slow winning time in the 400 freestyle, Ledecky took on her busiest day of the meet with the preliminaries of the 1,500 free and the prelims and semifinals of the 200 free.Ledecky was top qualifier in the metric mile in the morning, and came back to post the fastest time in the 200 semis in the evening (1:55.83). She will try to lock up two more races for Tokyo in the finals Wednesday, which are about an hour apart.“It was a good day,” she said. “Of course, my biggest day of racing from top to bottom. A long day at the office. It was good to get some rest in between.”Ledecky said she’s still adjusting to racing before fans after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sport and forced the trials and the Olympics to be delayed a year.“I was a lot more nervous than I expected to be,” she said. “I felt like we went from zero to 100 when it comes to fans. Being in that environment, it just takes some time for me to get used to.”———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———More AP Olympic coverage: https://apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports