Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky breaks 400m freestyle world record (video)

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IRVINE, Calif. — Is there anything Katie Ledecky can’t do?

“I haven’t thrown up after a race yet,” she joked after breaking her third world record in the last two months Saturday. “Maybe that’s what I’ve got to shoot for.”

Ledecky, 17, won the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Championships in 3:58.86 to beat Italian Federica Pellegrini‘s record of 3:59.15 set at the 2009 World Championships.

“Honestly, I didn’t think about it too much,” Ledecky said. “I just wanted to put together a good swim and go a best time. That’s what I did. I’m happy.”

Ledecky now owns the world records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles. She’s the first woman since Janet Evans to hold all three simultaneously.

Evans held all three from 1998 to 2006.

“It’s hard not to have it on my mind, but it wasn’t in the forefront,” said Ledecky, who first met Evans last November at the Golden Goggle Awards, where she won Female Athlete of the Year. “I think that’s what played into a good swim tonight. I just didn’t let it get to me. I just wanted to relax and have fun.”

Ledecky took the 400m free world record for the first time. She first broke the 800m and 1500m free marks in winning the 2013 World Championships, then re-broke her own records in those two events in June.

She said her swim Saturday was pretty close to a perfect race.

“Just had to make sure I didn’t rush the first 100,” Ledecky said. “Right after the first 100, I could just go and race the last 300.”

Her coach, Bruce Gemmell, said there’s plenty of things she can do better.

“I don’t think there will ever be a perfect race,” he said.

The versatility — Ledecky is the current U.S. champion from 200m through 1500m — is astonishing like the records.

Bo Jackson played baseball and football,” Gemmell said. “It’s not that type of thing, but it’s a two-minute race [for 200m] and a 15-minute race [for 1500m].”

Among those impressed at Woollett Aquatics Center — Michael Phelps, who broke his first world record at 15 and won his first eight Olympic medals at 19.

“She throws it on the line, she puts it out there,” Phelps, who trains 38 miles northeast of Ledecky, said after finishing sixth in the 100m backstroke, 90 minutes after Ledecky’s final. “To be at 1:56 to your feet at the 200 [Ledecky turned at 1:57.72 at 200], that’s moving.

“It’s good seeing somebody who’s hungry, somebody who wants it like her.”

Phelps was also astonished that Ledecky could go under four minutes twice in one day, in both the prelims and finals.

“He probably forgot that when he was 17 years old, he could do the same thing,” Gemmell said.

Ledecky showed more emotion than fans are used to seeing from the Bethesda, Md., native who repairs bikes for charity in her free time. She splashed the water and threw one of her caps off.

“Pure excitement. It never gets old, to break a world record,” said Ledecky, who doesn’t have a driver’s license yet.

Ledecky, the Olympic 800m free champion and reigning Female World Swimmer of the Year, has also been improving greatly in the 200m free.

The rising high school senior won the 200m free national title in 1:55.16 on Thursday night, 1.24 seconds faster than World champion Missy Franklin.

The world record in the 200m free is also held by Pellegrini, at 1:52.98. Allison Schmitt holds the American record of 1:53.61.

Ledecky said she won’t swim her last event at the U.S. Championships, the 1500m freestyle on the final day Sunday.

She next heads to the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24, the biggest international meet of the year.

How will she celebrate this world record, before flying to Australia next week?

“Do some packing,” she said, smiling. “Maybe some laundry.”

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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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