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8 Olympic champs to join short course worlds

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- The world short course swimming championships start on Wednesday in Istanbul, four months after the London Olympics but with notable absentees, including megastar Michael Phelps and teenage sensation Missy Franklin.

Phelps was never going to figure after taking his bow from the sport with 22 Olympic medals to his name, while 17-year-old Franklin — who won four golds and bagged two world records in London — declined to take part.

Also missing is 100m freestyle champion Nathan Adrian, who has an injured finger.

Instead, the competition will feature eight Olympic champions, among them Ryan Lochte, the four-time Olympic champion and individual medley specialist, who will take part in his third competitive event since leaving the British capital.

His U.S. compatriot Allison Schmitt will also be present. In London, the 22-year-old won five medals, three of them gold, and will be on the starting blocks for her favored event, the 200m freestyle.

Olympic 100m backstroke gold medalist Matt Grevers is out for his first world title in the distance, even though the event in Turkey will be his first outing in short-course racing for six years.

China, second on the overall medal table behind the United States, are looking to 16-year-old Ye Shiwen to carry their hopes after she won the 200m and 400m individual medley, setting a new world record — and raising eyebrows — in the longer event.

France, traditionally strong in short-course swimming, is sending a smaller team of just nine swimmers just three weeks after its national championships.

Heading the list is Florent Manaudou, who was a major surprise at the London Games after he took the 50m freestyle crown.

Australia are looking to bounce back after a disappointing Olympics that left them without an individual gold medalist for the first time since 1976 and look to be building for the future by sending a young team.

Germany will be led by star couple Britta Steffen and Paul Biedermann, while Federica Pellegrini and Filippo Magnini will head the Italy team.

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