By BETH HARRIS LONDON (AP) -- Michael Phelps barely qualified in the 400-meter individual medley, Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan was disqualified and world record-holder Paul Biedermann failed to make the final in a surprising first day of swimming at the London Games on Saturday. Phelps' slow preliminary time was the biggest shocker of all. The 14-time gold medalist squeaked into the last spot in the eight-man final by seven-hundredths of a second, saying, "That one didn't feel too good." Queen Elizabeth appeared briefly at the Aquatics Centre, but the biggest buzz involved the big names who struggled. South Korea's Park won his 400 freestyle preliminary heat, but was disqualified for a false start by a judge on the pool deck. The South Koreans filed a protest with the sport's world governing body, which convened a 22-member panel to decide the case. Biedermann of Germany won't swim in the evening final. Defending Olympic champion Stephanie Rice took the next-to-last spot in the women's 400 IM. "That's the Olympics," said Canadian Ryan Cochrane, who snagged the last spot in the 400 free final, but would miss out if Park was reinstated. "It's always a surprise, every single heat. You just have to focus on your own race." Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion, won his 400 IM heat in 4 minutes, 13.33 seconds with a time that was well off his world record of 4:03.84 set four years ago in Beijing, when Phelps won a record eight gold medals. But it was only good enough to secure the last spot in the evening final, when Phelps will swim in Lane 8 instead of the middle of the pool. He breathes to his right, so he won't see the field coming home. "The only thing that matters is just getting a spot in," he said. "You can't win the gold medal from the morning." In the 400 IM, Kosuke Hagino of Japan led the way in 4:10.01, a national record. Chad le Clos of South Africa was second at 4:12.24, and Ryan Lochte of the United States advanced in third at 4:12.35. Phelps' time was just fast enough to keep Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, the silver medalist in Beijing, out of the final. Cseh was ninth overall after leading Phelps during their heat before the American closed on the last lap of freestyle to beat him to the wall. "I didn't expect those guys to go that fast in their heat," Phelps said. "I was slower this morning than I was four years ago." Phelps' time in the grueling event that he had vowed not to swim again after Beijing took some of the luster off what was expected to be a showdown between him and Lochte for gold. "You can't count him out," Lochte said of Phelps. "Even though he just squeaked in eighth, he's a racer. We're going to do everything we can to go 1-2 tonight." Lochte, the bronze medalist in Beijing, has won the 400 IM at the last two world championships. "My first race is always the worst one," he said. "I'm glad I got the cobwebs out." Kosuke Kitajima of Japan opened his bid to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three consecutive Olympics. He qualified second-quickest in the 100 breaststroke at 59.63 seconds behind Christian Sprenger of Australia in 59.62. "I don't have any pressure, I just try to enjoy," Kitajima said. "It felt so good. It was good for my first race. I will try to improve in the semifinals." Giedrius Titenis of Lithuania was third at 59.68. Twelve of the 16 swimmers who reached the semifinals swam under 1 minute. American Brendan Hansen, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist who was fourth in Beijing, qualified 10th at 59.93. His teammate, Eric Shanteau, was 11th at 59.96. "Everybody seemed to be going out real fast in the first 50," Hansen said. "I wanted to come home strong. I let everybody know that last 50 is going to be there. This race is going to be won in the last 15 meters." Missing from the 100 breast was Alexander Dale Oen of Norway, the current world champion who would have been a medal contender in these games. He died in April of cardiac arrest at 26 during a training camp in Arizona. "We're carrying him with us all the time," Sara Nordenstam of Norway said after her heat in the 400 IM. "We have our own way of honoring him -- that's swimming fast and remembering him and remember everything that he taught us and go for the goals that we set together." Dana Vollmer had the fastest qualifying time in the 100 butterfly at 56.25, setting American and Olympic records, to lead 16 women into the evening semifinals. "I'm really happy with how fast it was and I think it's only going to get faster," she said. "That's kind of a confidence-booster. I'm ready to go." Lu Ying of China was second in 57.17 and Australian Alicia Coutts was third at 57.36. Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, the world record holder, was fourth at 57.45. American Claire Donahue moved on in seventh, while British teammates Francesca Hall and Ellen Gandy were eighth and ninth. Jess Schipper of Australia, the bronze medalist four years ago, was 24th and missed the semifinals by eight spots. In the 400 free, Sun Yang of China qualified fastest in 3:45.07. American Peter Vanderkaay was second at 3:45.80, followed by his teammates Conor Dwyer in 3:46.24. Park was surprised by his DQ, saying, "I don't know why" after he walked off the deck. In Beijing, he became South Korea's first swimming gold medalist and then won the world title in Shanghai last year. Biedermann washed out for the second straight Olympics. He also didn't make it out of the heats in Beijing. He set the world record at the 2009 world meet in Rome at the height of the high-tech body suit craze. Those suits have since been banned. "It wasn't so good," he said. "I wanted to lead from the front, but I couldn't hold it." World champion Elizabeth Beisel of the United States qualified fastest in the women's 400 IM at 4:31.68. Ye Shiwen of China was second at 4:31.73. Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, who trains at the University of Southern California, was third in 4:33.77. Britain's Hannah Miley got the loudest cheers while advancing to the final in sixth. Rice, a triple gold medalist in Beijing who has struggled with shoulder injuries the last three years, was seventh. "Whew! That took quite a bit out of me," Rice said. "I know that I've done everything I could. I'm pretty at peace with the fact that I'm just going to get in there and do my thing and see what happens." American Caitlin Leverenz got the last spot in the eight-woman final. Australia had the fastest qualifying time in the 4x100 free relay. Emily Seebohm, Brittany Elmslie, Yolane Kukla and Libby Trickett were timed in 3:36.34. The U.S. team of Lia Neal, Amanda Weir, Natalie Coughlin and Allison Schmitt was second at 3:36.53. "I think we did our goal of putting us in a good spot for tonight, which was the main thing," said Coughlin, who has 11 career medals but didn't qualify to swim any individual events in London. She has a chance to join Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female Olympian if the Americans earn a medal in the evening final, whether or not Coughlin returns to swim. Torres and Thompson both won 12 career medals. The defending champion Dutch team of Marleen Veldhuis, Inge Dekker, Hinkelien Schreuder and Femke Heemskerk was third at 3:37.76.
Heading into the expansion draft, the Caps knew they would most likely lose either defenseman Nate Schmidt or goalie Philipp Grubauer. They lost Schmidt and, in order to find a replacement,trading Grubauer may be the most viable option. But if that is the option the team decides to take, the clock is ticking.
The list of teams in need of a goalie continues to get shorter and shorter while free agency is just around the corner. This year is a buyer's market for goalies. With pending free agents like Ryan Miller, Jonathan Bernier, Steve Mason and Brian Elliott among others available, those few teams looking to upgrade their starting goalie will have plenty of options.
If Washington is hoping to address their hole on defense by trading away Grubauer or at least building a trade package with him as the centerpiece, it would benefit the Caps to make a deal before July 1 when free agency opens or they may be forced to hold onto him longer until a favorable deal presents itself.
But who would be interested?
Most teams in the league would love to get a 25-year-old budding starter. To maximize what general manager Brian MacLellan could get for the young netminder, he should focus more on teams in need of a starter now. Teams like these.
Here are the teams who definitely need a starting goalie, the teams who might be in the market and the teams who need a new starter but who are unlikely to deal with Washington.
Teams who definitely need a starting goalie
Vancouver Canucks: Ryan Miller is set to become a free agent on July 1. There has been talk for months about potentially re-signing him to a short-term deal, but less than a week away from July 1, there is still no deal in place. Vancouver seems to think Jacob Markstrom will one day be able to be the team’s top starter, but I do not know what they have seen from him to make them believe that. At 27 years old, Markstrom has a career 2.91 GAA and .906 save percentage. What am I missing? Grubauer would be an instant upgrade for a team that continually refuses to rebuild.
Winnipeg Jets: Mercifully, Ondrej Pavelec will finally be leaving as a free agent. Connor Hellebuyck was given every chance to cement himself as the starter, but managed only a 2.89 GAA and .907 save percentage in 56 games last season. At only 24, it is too early to give up on him completely, but Grubauer is only 25 and has shown just as much if not more potential. While a tandem of two potential starters is never ideal (see the Philadelphia Flyers), Grubauer-Hellebuyck would certainly be an upgrade over what they had last year. Think they wouldn’t turn the reins over to two young goalies? Well, the only other goalie under contract in Winnipeg is currently the 27-year-old Michael Hutchinson who has appeared in only 99 games in his NHL career. Vancouver has to do something to address that.
Teams who might be in the market for a starting goalie
Buffalo Sabres: Just as the Canucks seem to be the only team that sees Markstrom as a starter, the Sabres may be the only team that views Robin Lehner as a No. 1. He has shown potential with a .924 and .920 save percentage in each of the last two seasons suggesting the Sabres' problems have more to do with their defense than their goaltending, but Buffalo has cleaned house this offseason with a new general manager and coach. Perhaps they could also be in the market for a new goalie as well.
Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche raised some eyebrows by protecting Semyon Varlamov over Calvin Pickard in the expansion draft and paid the price for it as Pickard is now a Golden Knight. Colorado needs another goalie and Grubauer presents a younger, more durable option than the inconsistent Varlamov.
Detroit Red Wings: Speaking of raising eyebrows, Petr Mrazek was one of the most surprising players left exposed to Vegas. Golden Knights general manager George Mcphee, however, didn’t bite and now the Red Wings have a problem. Clearly, there’s an issue with Mrazek and Jimmy Howard is 33 years old making the team's future in net uncertain.
Teams who need a goalie but are unlikely partners
New York Islanders: The Islanders’ goalie situation was a disaster last season which resulted in Jaroslav Halak playing in the AHL. J.F. Berube is now with Vegas which means New York is down to two goalies again, but that may not solve the issue. The real problem last year wasn’t that the Islanders had too many goalies, it’s that they didn’t have enough. If one goalie had emerged as the clear No. 1, it would have made life a heck of a lot easier. Having only two goalies may help, but it is hard to imagine the Islanders having much faith in either netminder.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Steve Mason-Michal Neuvirth tandem has not brought much success to the Philadelphia and it is time to move on. Everyone knows it and general manager Ron Hextall has reportedly been in the market for a new goalie.
The problem with both the Islanders and Flyers is that they are both Metropolitan Division teams along with the Caps. Trades within the division are not unheard of, but they can make things more complicated. Would Washington really want to trade the Islanders their franchise goalie? Is either team willing to trade what it would take to get him? The answer may well be "no" which will make life difficult for the Caps considering just how small the list of teams who need a goalie is otherwise.
MORE CAPITALS: Development Camp: 5 players to watch
Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 27, 30 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.
The Redskins last played a game 177 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 75 days.
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 20
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 44
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 67
3 up, 3 down
NFL players’ fortunes shift during the year, not only while they are player games but in the spring and early summer as well. Here are three players who are in a better situation than they were when the 2016 season ended and three who are worse off.
WR Josh Doctson—He was a forgotten man by the end of last season, a first-round pick who landed on IR after playing in two games. Nobody was sure if he had fully recovered from his mysterious Achilles problem. Since January, we saw some videos of him working out and cutting, looking like a player who never was injured. Both Redskins’ top receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, left in free agency, clearing a path to a starting job for Doctson. Doctson has looked fine in offseason practices and most are anticipating a solid season for him.
LG Shawn Lauvao—One can make the case that the Redskins’ season took a final turn for the worse in Arizona in Week 13 when Calais Campbell bowled over Lauvao and sacked Kirk Cousins, forcing a fumble that the Cardinals quickly turned into a critical touchdown. Although the popular perception was that Lauvao would be replaced, the Redskins went through free agency and the draft without acquiring a serious competitor for Lauvao. He could get a push from Arie Kouandjio but Lauvao is a strong favorite to remain the starter at left guard.
CB Josh Norman—It may not be accurate to say that Norman was “down” at the end of last year. But he was a first-team All-Pro in 2015 and he didn’t even get a Pro Bowl invitation last year. Since then, the Redskins have improved the players around Norman, giving him some help up front with their first two draft picks and bolstering the safety position. His prospects for recognition after the season are improved.
ILB Will Compton—First, the Redskins offered their starting Mike linebacker the low restricted free agent tender, meaning that the team would pay him $1.8 million if he stayed and they would be willing to let him go for no compensation if they didn’t match another team’s offer sheet. Then they brought in Pro Bowl inside linebacker Zach Brown as a free agent. Perhaps Compton will retain his starting role but it seems that Brown and Mason Foster will take some snaps from him. And after his RFA experience, Compton must wonder how much the organization will value him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2018.
OLB Trent Murphy—Murphy had a breakout year in 2016, recording nine sacks. But things started going downhill for him after the season. First word came down that he was going to get a four-game PED suspension to start the season. Then the Redskins took OLB Ryan Anderson in the second round of the draft. Follow that up with Junior Galette surprising many by participating in OTA practices as he works his way back from a torn Achilles and Murphy must wonder if there will be snaps for him when he returns from his suspension.
RB Matt Jones—Yes, his “down” cycle started in London when he started his string of nine straight healthy appearances on the inactive list. But it has continued through the offseason as the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round. Part of the decline of Jones was self-inflicted as he decided to attend OTAs. That gave second-year back Keith Marshall a few more reps in the practices and he looked good. That perhaps pushed Jones from being Plan B if there was a training camp injury to a running back to Plan C or D. The former third-round pick ends up under contract with little prospect of making the team.
Tandler on Twitter
Poll: The Kirk Cousins long-term extension deadline is three weeks from right now. Will a deal get done?— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) June 26, 2017
In case you missed it
- Poll: Three weeks out; does a Cousins deal get done?
- Starters set at OT, but competition on tap for depth
- Don't expect to see much of Crowder at RB for the Redskins
- Pressure Points: More playmaking from Su'a Cravens?
- Showing, not telling, could make difference for defense
- Something's very wrong with this Redskins license plate
- Would Cousins give Redskins a discount like Oshie gave Caps?