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

Ashley Wagner ‘sick’ of hearing about her age

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KANSAS CITY — Ashley Wagner can become the oldest U.S. women’s figure skating champion in 90 years, but it would not be wise to tell her that.

“I think that this sport focuses on age way too much,” the three-time U.S. champion Wagner, 25, said in a press conference after Thursday night’s short program at Sprint Center (recap, videos here). “I’m so sick of hearing about my age. I’m so sick of it guys. If anybody asks me one more question about my age, I’ll just stop talking. It’s ridiculous.”

Wagner placed third in the short program, 1.88 points behind leader Karen Chen, who is 17 years old. She’ll try to surpass Chen in the free skate Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Chen sat in Thursday’s press conference between Wagner and second-place Mirai Nagasu, a 23-year-old who won the U.S. title way back in 2008.

“They’re my role models,” Chen said. “I watched them skate for years and years.”

Wagner then interjected before the next question.

“You just made both of us feel so old,” Wagner said, drawing laughter.

Truth is, Wagner is often asked about her age, her experience, her highs and lows, and answers respectfully and with wisdom. She did again after competing Thursday night for the first time in nearly two months, under the pressure as U.S. Championships favorite.

“I choose to view the word ‘veteran’ as experienced, and experience is never a bad thing, because I’ve gone through the good experiences and the brutally terrible awful experiences,” said Wagner, who last season earned world championships silver, ending a 10-year U.S. women’s drought.

NBC Olympics analyst Tara Lipinski was surprised to learn Wagner wasn’t particularly interested in questions about her age.

“Age is definitely a factor,” Lipinski said Friday. “You can pretend it’s not, but it is. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t, but it was. It was talked about a lot. I was too young [winning the Olympics at age 15]. Whether it’s the opposite [age] range, age is a factor.”

Wagner competes in a sport where, in other top countries, crops of teens are replaced by the next crop of teens. At last month’s Japanese and Russian Championships, the oldest women’s podium finisher was 18 years old.

Wagner may be past the usual prime years for skaters, but Lipinski pointed out that being (very) young has its disadvantages.

“I felt that I didn’t have a lot to draw on,” said Lipinski, who at 14 became the youngest U.S. women’s champion in 1997. “I didn’t have a lot of outside perspectives. Skating was my life. So any small mistake took me so down, and it was very hard for me to put this sport in perspective.”

Wagner was asked if she worried she may have peaked with that 2016 World Championships silver medal.

“If I peaked,” she said, “I would have retired.”

If Wagner makes the PyeongChang Winter Games, she would become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928. Which would actually be an incredible accomplishment in a teen-dominated sport.

That sort of statistic was probably furthest from her mind in Thursday’s press conference.

“We definitely need a new crop of girls to come in,” Wagner said, cracking a smile, “because I will die one day.”

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating head says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016, file photo, Nathan Chen of the United States, competes in the men's short program at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating final in Marseille, southern France. The 17-year-old's revelatory performance at last month's Grand Prix final in France has made him American figure skating's bright new star. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
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U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage continues Friday, live on NBCSN, Universal HD and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app, starting at 6 p.m. ET.

The short dance and men’s short programs are scheduled in Kansas City.

The NBC Sports All-Access page will provide live scoring and more all week.

Short dance
6-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

Men’s short program
8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

In dance, defending champions Maia and Alex Shibutani take on two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. They’re heavy favorites for the three world championships berths.

Nathan Chen leads the men’s field, seeking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966. He faces past champions Jason Brown and Max Aaron with two worlds berths at stake this weekend

The free dance will be Saturday and the men’s free skate Sunday, both on NBC and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang