Phelps, Franklin and Ledecky to defend Olympic titles in Rio


Michael Phelps qualified to defend his 100m butterfly 2012 Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games by finishing first in a time of 51.00 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials from Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday.

Joining Phelps should be Tom Shields, just as in the 200m butterfly, who finished second to Phelps in 51.20.

Phelps can become the first and only swimmer to win four consecutive gold medals in the same event (he also has this chance in the 200m individual medley, but will have to go through Ryan Lochte to get there).

Katie Ledecky clocked 8:10.32 to win the 800m freestyle, her only event and only gold medal from the 2012 Olympic Games. She owns the 11 fastest performances in history in the event and will be joined in Rio by Leah Smith, who raced to 8:20.18.

The 19-year-old Ledecky has raced in 14 major international meets since the 2012 Olympics and has never lost. In Rio, she is a heavy favorite in the 200m, 400m and 800m distances – all of which she won at the 2015 World Championships.

Also at Trials, Maya DiRado and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin finished first and second, respectively, to earn individual berths to the Rio Olympics.

DiRado raced to two minutes, 6.90 seconds and Franklin finished in 2:07.89.

Franklin holds the world and American record, set at the 2012 Olympic Games at 2:04.06.

Elizabeth Beisel, the 2012 bronze medalist in the event, finished seventh with 2:11.12. Beisel was hospitalized with a stomach bug before competing at the Trials but was able to qualify for Rio in the 400m individual medley on the first night. A few days later, in the warm up pool, she collided with another swimmer and broke a bone in her pinky and tore a ligament. She got a shot to manage the pain but it wore off; she competed anyway.

Nathan Adrian, 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 100m freestyle, clocked 21.51 to win the 50m freestyle final and will be joined at the Rio Olympics by 2000 50m freestyle co-gold medalist Anthony Ervin. Ervin was second to Adrian by one one-hundredth of a second. It took Ervin 21.98 to earn gold in 2000, but is even faster now more than a decade and a half later.

2012 Olympic silver medalist Cullen Jones was third in 21.75, missing his shot to return to the Olympic stage.

Abbey Weitzeil raced to 24.34 to win her semifinal heat of the 50m freestyle, ahead of Madison Kennedy’s 24.39, and advance into Sunday’s final in first place. Joining her are Simone Manuel, who won the other semifinal heat in 24.58, and 2012 Olympians Dana Vollmer and Lia Neal.