Lochte wins six gold medals at Worlds, then gives one away

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Attention: Ryan Lochte is back atop the swimming world.

With the retirement of his chief rival Michael Phelps, Lochte is once again the fastest man in the water. At the Short-Course World Championships, which ended Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey, Lochte won six gold medals and broke two world records.

The 28-year-old also won a silver medal in the 200m backstroke.

So yeah, it’s safe to say he is the acting king of swim racing.

Lochte won the 100m IM (WR), 200m IM (WR) and the 200m freestyle, and was on the winning relay teams – 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and the 4x100m IM.

The medal haul matched his total at the 2010 Short-Course Worlds and at the 2011 Long-Course Worlds, he earned one less gold medal. At the London Olympics, Lochte picked up two gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze.

But wait, there’s more. After receiving his 200m IM gold medal, Lochte walked over to the stands and draped it around the neck of a 9-year-old boy. It was a nice gesture, and it’s something Lochte often does at meets other than the Olympics. He told the BBC his reason for doing so: “I remember when as a kid I looked up to an Olympian superstar. I won’t mention his name [but] I asked for an autograph and he said ‘no’. I told my parents that if I ever get in the same position, I’ll do it.”

We give Lochte high marks for his speed in the pool and his generosity out of it.

On another note, move over Speedo: Swimwear (and swim gear) company Arena is now the chief sponsor of the U.S. national team, ending a 30-year period during which Speedo held that title. Arena, whose U.S. roster of sponsored athletes includes Rebecca Soni and Conor Dwyer, will provide new uniforms for the team and will be the title sponsor of USA Swimming’s Grand Prix series.

In London, swimmers wearing Arena suits won 31 percent of the medals – eight gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze – and broke four world records.

Katie Ledecky beaten in NCAA Championships individual medley

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Katie Ledecky lost an NCAA Championships race for the first time in eight career finals, taking second in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday.

Stanford teammate Ella Eastin easily beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds and grabbed the American and NCAA records from Ledecky, too. Eastin’s 3:54.60 is 1.93 seconds faster than Ledecky’s time from the Pac-12 Championships last month.

How did she do it?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Eastin said on ESPNU. “I’ve built a lot of endurance this year, and it really showed.”

Eastin is decorated in her own right. She three-peated as NCAA 400-yard IM champion and held the American record in the event before Ledecky lowered it last month.

Eastin would have made the 2017 World Championships team had she not been disqualified for an illegal turn after finishing in second place at nationals.

Ledecky, a sophomore, has never contested the 400m IM at a U.S. Championships, Olympics or world championships, nor did she race the 400-yard IM at 2017 NCAAs. She raced the 400 IM instead of the 200 freestyle on Friday.

All of Ledecky’s races at major meets before Friday were in freestyle events. Her only defeat in a major international meet individual final was the 200m freestyle at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky won five NCAA titles last year and the last two nights anchored the 800-yard freestyle relay and captured the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds.

Meet results are here.

Later Friday, Lilly King of Indiana three-peated in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking her American and NCAA records and winning in 56.25 seconds. King is also the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, plus the world-record holder.

“Always excited to get the record, but was really hoping to break 56 today,” King said.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford became the second woman after Missy Franklin to break 1:40 in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:39.80. Co-Olympic 100m free champ Simone Manuel of Stanford was third. Comerford and Ledecky tied for the 2017 NCAA 200 free title.

Stanford’s Ally Howe won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.70, one hundredth shy of her NCAA and American records. Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist Kathleen Baker of Cal-Berkeley was third.

NCAAs conclude Saturday. Ledecky swims the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is the overwhelming favorite, having gone 35 seconds faster than anyone this season.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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World vault champion out for all of 2018

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Maria Paseka, a two-time world vault champion and four-time Olympic medalist, said she is out for the rest of the year after December back surgery, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Paseka, 22, earned the lone Russian title at worlds in October, repeating as champion on vault by edging American Jade Carey by .084. She handed Simone Biles her only defeat in a 2015 Worlds final, also on vault.

Paseka also took vault silver and bronze medals at the last two Olympics, as well as helping Russia to team silvers in London and Rio.

As Paseka is sidelined, Russia’s two other recent headliners are on the comeback trail.

Viktoria Komova, the all-around silver medalist at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics who missed Rio due to a back injury, competed in December for the first time since 2015.

Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist with two uneven bars golds, is expected to return to competition this spring from June childbirth.

The world championships are in Doha in October.

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