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

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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