Diana Nyad, Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte swims with Diana Nyad

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NEW YORK — Diana Nyad swam a leisurely 80 yards in a lane next to the world’s greatest swimmer and felt compelled to stop during 48 continuous hours in a pool.

“How cool is this?” Nyad, in a pink cap, black suit and gray goggles, said to a couple hundred people outside the world’s largest Macy’s at Herald Square. “Swimming under the Empire State Building with Ryan Lochte?”

She went back to stroking away, 240 more yards with Lochte.

Lochte, the 11-time Olympic medalist, joined Nyad, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, as part of the “Nyad Swim for Relief” on Tuesday. Nyad, 64, set out to swim for 48 straight hours to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

“I love swimming, but 48 hours of swimming, I don’t know if I could do that,” Lochte said before an emcee mentioned event sponsor Tide. “I do one load of laundry, and I’m tired.

“What she did, that swim (Cuba to Florida in September), is amazing. I was glued to my TV, watching and saying, ‘Come on, keep going.'”

Lochte arrived before 3:45 on a 65-degree Tuesday afternoon. In a gray long-sleeve shirt and jeans, he bent down at the edge of the deck at a special 5-foot-high, 40-yard pool and shared a five-minute conversation with Nyad. She had just finished swimming laps with a boy named James, a Sandy survivor from Staten Island.

Registered lifeguards from the New York Health & Racquet Club, with whistles, are taking turns monitoring the laps.

“I was just trying to imagine what stroke you will do to go at my pace,” Nyad asked Lochte. “Is it a dog paddle? Is it an elementary backstroke?”

Lochte stuck to freestyle.

Nyad knows her international swimming. She name dropped Tunisian Ous Mellouli, the only swimmer to win Olympic and world titles in both the pool and open water.

“When I was having real bicep tendon problems, he told me to instead of keeping the standard elbow high, to come in real low with the shoulders,” she told Lochte. “It’s not as pretty, and it puts more strain on the bicep down here, but it really helps you.”

Nyad also talked to Lochte about an instance where she heard nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz speak in retirement. A coach asked Spitz to talk to his team.

“He says, ‘OK, how many of you are the first one at practice? And how many of you do the most yards? And he says, ‘You’re all losers,'” Nyad told Lochte. “What you want is quality. Save it for the meets.”

Lochte declined to answer questions about his move to Charlotte through the 2016 Olympics.

He told the Charlotte Observer on Monday that he moved from his decade-long base of Gainesville, Fla., to train with friend Cullen Jones and SwimMAC Carolina because “it’s time for a change.”

That change may mean different races.

“In my next swimming career, which started (Monday) morning, I want to train for some sprint events now,” Lochte, 29, told the newspaper. “I’m not done yet. I think there’s a lot more I can accomplish in the sport of swimming. I want to take my swimming to a new (level), and I want to bring it here to Charlotte.”

Richard Simmons and 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin are scheduled to swim with Nyad on Wednesday.

Olympic swimming community reacts to Diana Nyad’s record swim

Ex-No. 2 women’s marathoner of all time retires after doping ban ends

Liliya Shobukhova
AP
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Liliya Shobukhova, who was the second fastest women’s marathoner of all time before her three Chicago Marathon wins were stripped due to a doping suspension, said she has retired and is now a coach, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Shobukhova, 38, returned to race Sept. 12 from a two-year, seven-month ban for abnormal biological passport levels. She finished fifth in a Russian Half Marathon Championship.

Shobukhova’s ban was reduced from three years, two months, after she provided “substantial assistance” to anti-doping officials.

IAAF and Russia track and field officials were banned for life in January for extorting Shobukhova out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to avoid a doping ban ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Shobukhova won the Chicago Marathon three straight times from 2009 to 2011, the first man or woman to accomplish the feat. Her last title in Chicago came in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 20 seconds, making her the second fastest woman over 26.2 miles ever behind Brit Paula Radcliffe, who holds the three fastest times.

Shobukhova’s wins and times since 2009 were annulled when she was banned in 2014.

Shobukhova also won the 2010 London Marathon (that win also stripped) but never finished better than sixth in three Olympic track and field races.

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IIHF president doesn’t expect NHL participation in 2018 Olympics

Sidney Crosby
Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The head of ice hockey’s international body says there is a strong possibility that NHL players won’t be competing at the next Winter Olympics.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel puts the chances at 60 percent that the NHL will decline to go to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, because of a lack of money to cover player insurance.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Fasel said the IOC has canceled its contribution to player travel and insurance costs for Pyeongchang, leaving the IIHF facing a $10 million shortfall and “begging” for money around the world.

“It’s always difficult to get (to) the Olympics, the Games,” he said. “And now with some problems on our side, 50-50 is very positive. I would be more 60 percent that they are not coming.”

Negotiations and brinkmanship over finances are common in the lead-up to Olympic hockey tournaments. For the 2014 tournament in Sochi, Russia, the NHL’s participation was assured only in July 2013, seven months before the Games.

The IOC’s refusal to cover player insurance adds an additional dimension for 2018.

The NHL did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but Commissioner Gary Bettman has made it clear costs are a key factor.

“There are real costs to us going, including insurance, including transportation because we’re losing part of our season, we’ve got to get in and out quickly,” Bettman said last month at a meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors in New York. “The players for the last five Olympics in particular have been accommodated in a certain way as far as it relates to their families. Those are issues that would once again have to be resolved. … I’m not sure that there would be a lot of appetite for us on top of that to have to pay for the privilege. We don’t make money going to then Olympics.”

Bettman said he didn’t expect a decision until after the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in September.

While the IOC gives the IIHF around $40 million of revenue each Olympics, Fasel insists that money is earmarked for developing hockey and wants national Olympic committees and hockey federations to plug the gap.

The IOC pulled its extra subsidy because its leaders are “a bit scared that other (sports) federations will come and also ask for some compensation for traveling and insurance,” said Fasel, who is also an IOC member and serves on its rule-making executive board.

“I think my idea is to work closer together with the national Olympic committees, as they have normally to pay transportation and insurance for the athletes when they come to the Games, so I can imagine that some of the NOCs are also ready to spend some money there, so we have to go around and do some begging,” he said.

Fasel said the end of this year is the deadline to reach a deal because of the NHL’s need to draw up a calendar for the Olympic season.

“If you don’t have the best, (the Olympics) will be a different competition for sure,” he said, but warned: “At the end somebody has to pay. That’s the question. On my side I will do everything possible to make it happen.”

Fasel dismissed the suggestion that the World Cup of Hockey could offer some players less incentive to demand to be allowed to play at the Olympics.

“There is nothing like the Olympics,” he said. “I think for an athlete to win the gold medal is so different from winning the Stanley Cup. You can win the Stanley Cup every year.”

In Pyeongchang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022, the Winter Olympics move to Asia and away from the North American and European nations that have historically been the bedrock of hockey.

South Korea, which has built a team mixing import players with locals, plays in the second level of the IIHF’s world championship and hopes not to be a walkover in 2018. China is far less competitive. China will be in the fifth tier for next year and in 2022 could become the first Winter Olympic host not to enter a hockey team — a situation that worries the IIHF, given China’s potential to become a huge market for the sport.

“One thing they do not like is to lose the face, so they cannot do that,” Fasel said. “I hope and I think they will have a Chinese player, Chinese team in Beijing in 2022. We cannot put them on the ice and they will be beaten 15, 20-nothing. We cannot do that.”

Things are looking up for China, with increased government interest and the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League due to open a team there this year, but Fasel said the NHL is key to unlocking potentially vast commercial rewards in China.

“A North American brand in China has a very special taste. We can see that with the NBA,” he said. “I think what we need is to have a Chinese NHL player, like Yao Ming with basketball.”

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups determined