Duel in the Pool - Previews

Tyler Clary’s plan: swim to Rio, drive to NASCAR

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Tyler Clary, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m backstroke, proved on Tuesday that he can go fast outside of the pool, too. Clary participated in a semi-pro stock car race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Racing a Legends car, which can reach speeds of up to 100 mph, Clary finished 15th after a car ahead of him flipped.

This was Clary’s first competitive stock car race, but the 25-year-old has long been drawn to the track. According to the Charlotte Observer, when Clary was growing up in California he raised money for his swim team by working in the merchandise booth at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

A member of SwimMAC Carolina, Clary is committed to balancing his training for the 2016 Rio Olympics with his long-term plan for a NASCAR career.

He told USA Today:

I’m here because I’m serious about it and I want this to be my next career. I’m not joking around about it. It’s not a publicity stunt. I mean everything about what I’m doing.

Clary intends to continue racing in the weekly Summer Shootout series, with the eventual goal of reaching the Sprint Cup series.

He already has two high-profile supporters: a sponsor, Fusion Jerky, and a mentor, Jimmie Johnson. The winner of six NASCAR Cup Series, Johnson has swapped driving advice for swimming tips from Clary.

Clary sees similarities between a winning race strategy in the pool and on the track. “NASCAR is a game of margins, and you’re always trying to push that margin a little bit further to see if you can have even the smallest edge over your opponent,” he told the Charlotte Observer. “That’s really something that is hammered into our heads as swimmers every single day. We are constantly looking for that edge.”

Clary’s SwimMAC teammates, including Ryan Lochte, came out to the racetrack to support him. The two swimmers took a photo with Clary’s Legends car.

Kayla Harrison begins MMA career

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12:  (BROADCAST - OUT) Judoka Kayla Harrison of the United States poses for a photo with her gold medal on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison has joined mixed martial arts promotion World Series of Fighting as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter, but she isn’t 100 percent committed to competing and won’t set a first bout for at least one year.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said. “I haven’t booked a fight.”

Harrison, 26 and all but retired from judo, has been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Ronda Rousey‘s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo.

Harrison will serve as a commentator and brand ambassador before potentially getting into MMA competition. Her commentating debut will be at WSOF 34 in New York on Dec. 31 on NBC.

Harrison has taken boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential.

To compete in MMA, Harrison will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competes at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC. WSOF, which has no women’s weight classes, plans to develop a women’s program as Harrison readies for a potential debut.

Harrison expects that if she fights, it will be at 145 pounds.

Harrison laughed about people tweeting at her to fight Brazilian Cristiane Justino, a former 145-pound title holder who is set to face Rousey, should Rousey win her comeback fight.

“I’ve never fought MMA before, so my first fight is not going to be for a belt,” Harrison cautioned. “I’m going to MMA 0-0, not as a two-time Olympic champion. People need to remember that.”

Harrison said she last conversed with Rousey one or two months ago. Rousey, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, congratulated Harrison on her second gold medal and told Harrison she was available if she needed anything.

Harrison said she might reach out to her former training partner early next year, after Rousey’s comeback fight, to pick her brain about MMA.

“And be like, hey, what do you got for me? Tell me everything,” Harrison joked.

MORE: Ronda Rousey sets comeback fight

U.S. men’s gymnastics program undergoes changes

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 25: Members of the U.S. Men's National Gymnastics Team gather before day two of the 2016 Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at Chafitz Arena on June 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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U.S. men’s national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika‘s contract will not be renewed at the end of the year as USA Gymnastics makes changes after missing the men’s team podium at a second straight Olympics.

Mazeika was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, where the U.S. men earned team medals at a non-home Games for the first time. He then served as national team coordinator from 2009 through this year.

The U.S. men finished fifth at the last two Olympics.

USA Gymnastics will replace the national team coordinator role with a high-performance director “focused on sustained international success.”

“The coaches, committee members and staff did a thorough review of the existing structure and results, and then took a hard look at what is needed to prepare our athletes for success heading toward Tokyo and beyond,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said in a press release.

MORE: U.S. women’s national team coordinator named