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FINA adds mixed-gender swimming relays; which countries would fare best?

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Swimming’s world governing body approved mixed-gender relay events Thursday. They will be in place for a major international meet for the first time at the 2014 short-course world championships, according to reports.

That would presumably mean relays with two men and two women per country could be on the program at the following world championships in 2015 in Kazan, Russia. FINA has said mixed relays could be added to the Olympics at some point, but that step has not been taken yet.

We’ve already seen mixed relays at World Cup events, the Youth Olympics and, famously, at the Duel in the Pool meet between the U.S. and international stars.

Australian Olympic champion Libby Trickett went faster than the women’s 100-meter freestyle world record in the leadoff leg of the 4×100 free relay at the 2007 Duel in the Pool, but it didn’t go into the record books because she did it swimming against Michael Phelps.

So, if mixed relays were held, say, at next week’s world championships, which countries would be favored? Let’s do some math.

Based on FINA’s world leaders for this year (which have been known to miss a top time or two in the past), here’s how everybody would add up with flat times with two men and two women per relay.

4×100 free relay
Gold: Australia (3:22.15) — Cate Campbell (52.83), Bronte Campbell (53.72), James Magnussen (47.53), Cameron McEvoy (48.07).

Silver: USA (3:23.58) — Missy Franklin (53.43), Shannon Vreeland (53.83), Nathan Adrian (48.08), Jimmy Feigen (48.24).

Bronze: Russia (3:24.5) — Veronika Popova (54.12), Maria Baklakova (54.78), Vladimir Morozov (47.62), Andrey Grechin (47.08).

4×200 free relay
Gold: France (7:23.92) — Camille Muffat (1:55.48), Charlotte Bonnet (1:56.66), Yannick Agnel (1:45.48), Jeremy Stravius (1:45.61).

Silver: Australia (7:24.53) — Bronte Barratt (1:56.05), Kylie Palmer (1:56.66), Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:45.79), Cameron McEvoy (1:46.03).

Bronze: USA (7:24.71) — Missy Franklin (1:55.56), Katie Ledecky (1:56.93), Ryan Lochte (1:45.97), Conor Dwyer (1:46.25).

4×100 medley relay
Gold: Australia (3:42.93) — Emily Seebohm (59.17), Christian Sprenger (59.05), Alicia Coutts (57.18), James Magnussen (47.53).

Silver: USA (3:44.05) — David Plummer (53.10), Kevin Cordes (59.99), Dana Vollmer (57.53), Missy Franklin (53.43).

Bronze: Russia (3:44.46) — Anastasia Zueva (59.83), Yulia Efimova (1:05.48), Evgeny Korotyshkin (51.53), Vladimir Morozov (47.62).

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U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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