Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky breaks another world record

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Katie Ledecky broke her second world record in four days, slashing 2.86 seconds off her 800m free mark from last year’s World Championships on Sunday.

Ledecky, 17 and the female World Swimmer of the Year, clocked 8 minutes, 11 seconds, at a meet in Texas. She took 2.3 seconds off her 1500m world record at the same pool Thursday.

“I knew I was swimming well, but I didn’t realize until I touched how much faster I was here than in Barcelona,” Ledecky told the Washington Post. “I’d still a bit stunned from this whole weekend. It’s a great feeling.”

The 800m world record is bigger because it’s an Olympic event (Ledecky won the 2012 Olympic 800m free title at age 15). The 1500m free is contested at the World Championships, but not the Olympics.

Ledecky is in spectacular form more than one month before the U.S. Championships, a selection meet for the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, later in August, and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. Swimmers usually set their training to peak for the major late summer meets.

That’s just what Ledecky did last year, winning gold medals in all four of her World Championships events in Barcelona, including world records in the 800m and 1500m frees.

Ledecky is clearly in a class of her own in those two distances. Nobody is within five seconds of her in the 800m free or 10 seconds in the 1500m free since the start of 2013.

Her next challenges would appear to include the 400m free world record of 3:59.15, set by Italian Federica Pellegrini at the 2009 World Championships (the peak of the high-tech suit era). Ledecky’s personal best is 3:59.82, her 2013 World Championship-winning time. She swam 4:03.09 in Texas on Friday, the fastest time in the world this year.

She also swims the 200m free and has been improving in that distance the last three years — 1:58.66 (2012), 1:56.32 (2013), 1:56.27 (2014). Ledecky was the second fastest U.S. woman in the 200m free last year, behind Missy Franklin, and is the fastest so far this year.

A few notes about Ledecky’s 800m world record Sunday:

She negative split the race, which means she was faster in the second 400m (4:05.3) than the first half (4:05.7).

Her time was 3.63 seconds faster than her Olympic gold swim, which was an American record at the time.

Her time would have been the men’s world record until 1975.

Her split at 400m, 4:05.70, would have won every Olympic 400m gold medal before 2004, except when Janet Evans won in then-world record time in 1988.

How Missy Franklin heard about Ledecky’s world record Thursday

IPC president: Now is the right time to have Paralympics in Brazil

Paralympics
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International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven said the upcoming Paralympic Games, which open in 100 days, could not be going to a better city than Rio de Janeiro.

“Many people might think that it’s not the time to go there now with the economic and political problems,” Craven said in a phone interview last week. “But is that not just the right time to be going, to just show what sport can truly do to mobilize and galvanize a people?”

And the Zika virus?

“We believe that the measures that have been communicated on a regular basis, reiterated to our member nations, will be effective, and the Zika virus will not have a major effect on the Games,” Craven said.

The Paralympics will visit South America for the first time in their 15th edition. The Rio Games, which run from Sept. 7-18, will have more broadcast coverage than ever and an expected record number of athletes and nations in the largest number of sports on a single Paralympic program.

NBC and NBCSN will air a record 66 hours of coverage of the Games. The USOC will provide live coverage at TeamUSA.org, too.

How the Paralympics will deal with the well-known issues facing Brazil will be largely impacted by how the preceding Olympics handle them.

But one issue unique to the Paralympics came to light four weeks ago.

A British Paralympic champion swimmer was disqualified from a European Championships event because his Olympic rings tattoo was not covered (he later competed at the meet with the tattoo covered).

An International Paralympic Committee swimming rule states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

The rule will cover all sports at the Rio Paralympics. Craven said he has not heard of any appeals by para-athletes to change the rule.

The IPC will take a “common-sense approach” to enforcing the rule in Rio to make sure there are no disqualifications by communicating thoroughly to national committees, Craven said.

“IPC has got very strict rules for the Paralympic Games and for other events prohibiting body advertisements, and this includes tattoos for commercial brands and non-IPC symbols, such as the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “These rules were emphasized, re-emphasized to all competing teams and swimmers at that particular event, and, similarly, we’ll be doing so prior to the Games in Rio.”

Some Paralympians identify themselves as Olympians, too — some have event competed in both Games — but Craven made the difference clear.

The 65-year-old, five-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball player likened Olympic rings tattoos at the Paralympics to an NFL player with an NBA team tattoo.

Craven added that there has been no pressure from the IOC regarding the rule and that he would expect a hypothetical Paralympian competing at the Olympics to cover up a tattoo of the Agitos, which is the Paralympic logo.

“We want Paralympic athletes to show pride in promoting the Paralympic movement, including our symbol, which is the Agitos, which is very different from the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “When you have a Paralympic athlete, a para-athlete sporting a branding from another event, then it just creates confusion. It creates confusion for the IPC. It creates confusion for the IOC.”

MORE: Paralympic champ long jumper still hopes to be allowed into Olympics

First four U.S. Olympic archers qualified; Khatuna Lorig waits

Khatuna Lorig
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The first four U.S. Olympic archers for Rio are known, while Khatuna Lorig will learn in three weeks if she makes her sixth Olympic team.

A full men’s team of 2012 Olympic team silver medalists Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski and first-time Olympian Zach Garrett earned their spots at the U.S. Olympic Trials that ended Monday.

Mackenzie Brown clinched her first Olympic berth by winning the women’s trials Monday.

The U.S. can send two more women to Rio if it qualifies a full team at a World Cup event in Turkey in three weeks. Those two women would be Hye Youn Park and Lorig.

Lorig, 42, is best known for teaching archery to Jennifer Lawrence before “The Hunger Games.” Lorig also competed in the 1992 Olympics for the Unified Team, the 1996 and 2000 Games for Georgia and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for the U.S.

Lorig earned team bronze at Barcelona 1992 and finished fifth and fourth individually at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team alternates are Daniel McLaughlin and La Nola Pritchard.

MORE: Full list of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team