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FINA proposes mixed-gender relays, many new swim events for Tokyo Olympics

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Swimmers could have the opportunity to win many more medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond, making Michael Phelps‘ record 28 Olympic medals a little less untouchable.

FINA, the sport’s international governing body, proposed to add 10 more swimming medal events for the next Olympics, which would bring its program to 44 total. The International Olympic Committee has final say in the Olympic program.

The proposed added events:

• Women’s 1500m freestyle
• Men’s 800m freestyle
• Two mixed relays (4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley)
• Men’s and women’s 50m backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly

FINA’s proposal is to have all of its world championships events on the Olympic program.

It would instantly create at least one more medal opportunity for Katie Ledecky, who dominated the 1500m freestyle at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships. Her world record in that event is 13.4 seconds faster than the second-fastest woman in history.

Sprinters would stand to benefit the most. The U.S.’ top 100m freestylers — Nathan Adrian or Caeleb Dressel for the men and Simone Manuel for the women, currently — could add three more medal races to their Olympic schedules. Both mixed relays plus the 50m butterfly, which is commonly contested by the top sprint freestylers.

Mixed relays made their world championships debut in 2015. FINA has said for years that they could one day be part of the Olympic program.

It may be closer reality now, with mixed-gender events recently added to the Olympics in biathlon, luge and tennis.

More Olympic events in aquatic sports proposed by FINA:

DIVING
Proposal: to increase the number of divers from one-hundred thirty-six (136) to one-hundred sixty (160) and to have twelve (12) Synchro Teams qualified for the finals.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING
Proposal: to increase the number of participating nations from eight (8) to twelve (12) in the Team Event and to add the Mixed Duet Event with twelve (12) duets, that is 24 athletes.

OPEN-WATER SWIMMING
Proposal: to increase the number of swimmers from twenty-five (25) Men and twenty-five (25) Women to thirty-five (35) Men and thirty-five (35) Women.

WATER POLO
Proposal: to increase from eight (8) to twelve (12) Women’s teams but by adding four (4) additional athletes only.

Existing – total two-hundred sixty (260) players – 12 Men’s Teams x 13 players and 8 Women’s Teams x 13 players)

New proposal – total two-hundred sixty-four (264) players for twenty-four (24) Teams (12 Women’s Teams x 11 Players and 12 Men’s Teams x 11 players).

HIGH DIVING
Proposal: to include High Diving as an extreme sport, where Men dive from a 27m platform and Women from a 20m platform, with a total number of thirty (30) divers (15 Men and 15 Women).

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Paralympian Blake Leeper advances in 400m at USATF Outdoors (video)

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Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper, believed to be the first double amputee to race at a USATF Outdoor Championships, advanced out of the 400m heats in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Leeper ran 45.52, third in his heat, to grab the 16th and last spot in the 400m semifinals Friday (10:34 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

It marked a personal best by .58 of a second for Leeper, who was racing one day after his ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2015 ended.

“I wanted to advance, but if I don’t I have won already,” Leeper said before he learned he made the semis, according to USA Track and Field. “Just being here and showing everybody what you can truly do with a disability.”

Leeper ran faster than Olympians David VerburgKyle ClemonsArman Hall and Manteo Mitchell, who were all eliminated.

It’s likely that the top five or six in Saturday’s final will make the 4x400m team for the world championships in London in August.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

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Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships (video)

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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced five months pregnant in 100-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series) in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

“People were like, oh, you’re going to run faster than you did last time because you’re less pregnant,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I was like, I’m still pregnant.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

In a Wonder Woman top, Montaño gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño said. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative of people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. Not everybody has the same platform that I do. I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Montaño said she was inspired when she learned Gal Gadot, who played the title role in the movie “Wonder Woman,” filmed half of it while five months pregnant.

“I saw Wonder Woman, and I was like, I for sure am signing up for USA Nationals,” Montaño said. “I already was thinking I was going to do it.”

Montaño said it wasn’t easier or harder racing Thursday versus three years ago, when she had a bigger baby bump.

“The weird part about five months is you’re still growing and like shifting a lot,” she said. “So every week you have to readjust.”

Linnea has seen enough photos of her mom’s famous race in 2014 to know what was going on.

“I go, mom is going to run with your sibling in her belly,” Montaño recalled. “I did that with you, too. And [Linnea] was like, ‘Yeah, it was sticking out!'”

Montaño raced outdoors for the first time since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. Montaño had won the previous Olympic Trials (and finished fourth in London) and the 2015 U.S. title coming back from pregnancy.

She ran without an apparel sponsor Thursday, frustrated that Asics waited until December to say they were not interested in retaining her for 2017. Montaño said that left her no time to try and find a different sponsor, even though she was already planning to have her second child.

“You need to let an athlete know in September, October,” she said. “I’ve been calling [Asics] since September to be like, hey, I didn’t make the Olympic team, I’m 30, I’m going to have another baby.”

In the men’s 800m Thursday, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

MORE: Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

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