Ryan Lochte swims with Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad, Ryan Lochte
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NEW YORK — Diana Nyad swam a leisurely 80 yards in a lane next to the world’s greatest swimmer and felt compelled to stop during 48 continuous hours in a pool.

“How cool is this?” Nyad, in a pink cap, black suit and gray goggles, said to a couple hundred people outside the world’s largest Macy’s at Herald Square. “Swimming under the Empire State Building with Ryan Lochte?”

She went back to stroking away, 240 more yards with Lochte.

Lochte, the 11-time Olympic medalist, joined Nyad, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, as part of the “Nyad Swim for Relief” on Tuesday. Nyad, 64, set out to swim for 48 straight hours to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

“I love swimming, but 48 hours of swimming, I don’t know if I could do that,” Lochte said before an emcee mentioned event sponsor Tide. “I do one load of laundry, and I’m tired.

“What she did, that swim (Cuba to Florida in September), is amazing. I was glued to my TV, watching and saying, ‘Come on, keep going.'”

Lochte arrived before 3:45 on a 65-degree Tuesday afternoon. In a gray long-sleeve shirt and jeans, he bent down at the edge of the deck at a special 5-foot-high, 40-yard pool and shared a five-minute conversation with Nyad. She had just finished swimming laps with a boy named James, a Sandy survivor from Staten Island.

Registered lifeguards from the New York Health & Racquet Club, with whistles, are taking turns monitoring the laps.

“I was just trying to imagine what stroke you will do to go at my pace,” Nyad asked Lochte. “Is it a dog paddle? Is it an elementary backstroke?”

Lochte stuck to freestyle.

Nyad knows her international swimming. She name dropped Tunisian Ous Mellouli, the only swimmer to win Olympic and world titles in both the pool and open water.

“When I was having real bicep tendon problems, he told me to instead of keeping the standard elbow high, to come in real low with the shoulders,” she told Lochte. “It’s not as pretty, and it puts more strain on the bicep down here, but it really helps you.”

Nyad also talked to Lochte about an instance where she heard nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz speak in retirement. A coach asked Spitz to talk to his team.

“He says, ‘OK, how many of you are the first one at practice? And how many of you do the most yards? And he says, ‘You’re all losers,'” Nyad told Lochte. “What you want is quality. Save it for the meets.”

Lochte declined to answer questions about his move to Charlotte through the 2016 Olympics.

He told the Charlotte Observer on Monday that he moved from his decade-long base of Gainesville, Fla., to train with friend Cullen Jones and SwimMAC Carolina because “it’s time for a change.”

That change may mean different races.

“In my next swimming career, which started (Monday) morning, I want to train for some sprint events now,” Lochte, 29, told the newspaper. “I’m not done yet. I think there’s a lot more I can accomplish in the sport of swimming. I want to take my swimming to a new (level), and I want to bring it here to Charlotte.”

Richard Simmons and 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin are scheduled to swim with Nyad on Wednesday.

Olympic swimming community reacts to Diana Nyad’s record swim

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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