Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte scratches on final day of Mesa Grand Prix

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Ryan Lochte had an abrupt ending to the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz. The 11-time Olympic medalist pulled out of his two finals Saturday after warm-ups for reported health reasons.

Lochte was slated to swim the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley finals on the third and final day of competition. He won the 100m butterfly, over Michael Phelps, on Thursday and the 200m freestyle Friday. He scratched out of the 200m back final Friday.

Lochte tore his left MCL and sprained his ACL after a teenage girl ran to him, he caught her and they both fell on Nov. 2. His knee hit a curb, Lochte’s publicist said. He was back racing in February, but he said he pushed the knee too hard in swimming at an Orlando meet, aggravating the injury. He did race in March, though.

Media in Mesa reported Lochte’s injury to be a knee, leg or hamstring.

Lochte’s coach in Charlotte is David Marsh.

Three-time 2008 Olympic medalist Katie Hoff led the winners Saturday, dominating the 200m individual medley by 1.69 seconds in 2:12.92.

Hoff, 24, took more than a year off after missing the 2012 Olympic Team but was reinvigorated for the sport while attending the World Junior Championships in Dubai in August.

“I think I just needed to step away for a little bit,” Hoff, who got engaged after throwing a ceremonial first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game Sunday, said on Universal Sports. “I watched all those fast kids enjoy it and swim fast. I thought, I’m not done. I want to be down there racing, too.”

Hoff dusted a field that included both of the U.S. 200m IM representatives at the 2013 World Championships, Caitlin Leverenz and Elizabeth Beisel. World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky qualified fourth into the final, behind Hoff, Leverenz and Beisel, but scratched out of it.

Ledecky later won the 800m freestyle in 8:20.10. The Olympic and world champion Ledecky, 17, beat the second-place finisher, Danish world silver medalist Lotte Friis, by nearly 13 seconds. Ledecky swept the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles in Mesa.

In another dominating effort, world silver medalist Michael McBroom won the 1500m by nearly 31 seconds in 15:08.86. Three-time South African Olympian Darian Townsend took the men’s 200m IM by 1.73 seconds in 2:02.07.

Olympic 200m backstroke champion Tyler Clary won the 200m butterfly in 2:00.39, edging 2013 World Championships teammate Tom Luchsinger by .01. Rising star Becca Mann, 16, won the women’s 200m butterfly by 1.85 seconds in 2:12.10.

Olympic champion Matt Grevers was beaten in the 100m backstroke by Arkady Vyatchanin, 54.40 to 54.50. Two-time Mexican Olympian Fernanda Gonzalez captured the women’s 100m back by .67 in 1:01.58.

Three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson completed a sweep of the breaststrokes, taking the 100m breast in 1:07.50, a whopping 1.43 seconds ahead of second-place Micah LawrenceSlovenia’s Damir Dugonjic took the men’s 100m breast over U.S. champion Kevin Cordes by .06. 

The next USA Swimming Grand Prix meet is in Charlotte, N.C., from May 15-18. Phelps is expected to compete there.

What’s next for Michael Phelps

Korea Olympic hockey coach takes high school job

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Sarah Murray, who coached the joint Korean Olympic women’s hockey team in PyeongChang, will coach the Owatonna High School girls team in her native Minnesota starting this fall.

Murray has not responded to a request for comment though the school on whether this means she is leaving the South Korean national team program.

Murray, 30, guided the joint Korean Olympic team to an 0-5 record. The tournament underdogs scored in three games and were within two goals of Switzerland.

Three weeks before the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee approved adding 12 North Koreans to the South Korean Olympic women’s hockey team, making it the first joint Korean team in any Olympic event.

Murray initially had mixed feelings.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something that’s so historic, to have two countries so divided come together through sports,” Murray said in January, according to Yonhap News Agency. “I think the story is great, and to be a part of it is important. But at the same time, it’s mixed feelings because it’s at the expense of, ‘We don’t get to play our full roster.’”

She expressed optimism after the Games.

“We have really enjoyed working with the North’s players and coaches, and we really do want to help them in the future,” Murray said, according to The Associated Press, adding that a possible “exchange game” was discussed to maintain the connection. “They want to get better, they want to keep learning from us and we want to help them. And there are things that we can learn from them, too.”

Murray won two NCAA titles as a player at Minnesota-Duluth. Her father, Andy Murray, spent 10 seasons coaching the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues in the 2000s.

She replaces an Otawonna coach who stepped down to focus on the girls lacrosse program and spend more time with his family.

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MORE: South Korea hockey team misses playing with North Koreans

Michael Phelps launches mental health campaign

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Michael Phelps was hanging at the pool on Tuesday.

No, he’s not planning another comeback.

He’s got a bigger goal to tackle.

Mental health.

After revealing the depths of his depression — and even thoughts of suicide after his second drunken-driving arrest — Phelps is hoping to make a difference for those who are dealing with similar issues.

The 23-time Olympic gold medalist announced a partnership with Talkspace, which provides online therapy, and said he considers it a higher calling than anything he ever did as a swimmer.

“Somebody told me yesterday about his daughter going through a very, very deep depression and not really wanting to be alive,” Phelps said in an interview with The Associated Press. “She read stories about me opening up. He told me how much that helped her. For me, that’s way bigger than ever winning gold medals. The chance to potentially save a life, to give that person an opportunity to grow and learn and help someone else, there’s nothing better in life.”

Despite his unprecedented success as an athlete, Phelps went through plenty of dark moments.

His first DUI arrest came when he was just 19, a few months after he won six gold medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics. He was briefly suspended after a picture emerged of him smoking from a marijuana pipe after his record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. He struggled to get motivated heading into the 2012 Olympics.

But his low point came in 2014, after he abandoned retirement to compete in a fifth Olympics only to be arrested again for driving under the influence. He checked into an Arizona rehab clinic and finally realized just how much he was hurting — so much so, he wasn’t sure he wanted to go on living.

“I thought it would make things easier,” Phelps recalled. “I almost felt like it would be better for everybody if I wasn’t there. But the more I thought about it, I wanted to find a different route. I wanted to see if I could find some help. I wanted to see if I could get better.”

Phelps said he’s in a much better place these days. He’s happily married and living in suburban Phoenix with two small children, 2-year-old Boomer and 3-month-old Beckett. He’s satisfied with his career, saying there’s nothing left to accomplish at the pool.

But there are times that he struggles with depression and anxiety.

He figures it will be that way for the rest of his life.

“I still go through times that are very challenging. I do break down and maybe have a bad day, where I’m not in a good mental state,” Phelps said. “I understand that. It’s who I am. I guess that will always be something that’s a part of me.”

He hopes that his deal with Talkspace, which helps connect those in need with therapists through a variety on online conduits, will help to remove some of the stigma associated with mental health — especially for those who are reluctant to seek out help in person or may not have the financial means.

Phelps said mental health is especially important when suicide rates are on the rise and a rash of school shootings have rocked the United States.

“I feel like with all the issues we have in this world, this is something where I can truly make significant impact,” he said.

The 32-year-old Phelps has kept himself in good condition since Rio. He rides a bike nearly every day and still works out at the pool at least twice a week. When he stepped on the scales Monday, he weighed 192 pounds — 3 pounds less than he was at his last Olympics.

“Could I come back? Yes,” he said. “I think it would be even easier than it was in 2014 (when he officially ended his first attempt at retirement). I’m in better shape now than I was then.”

But, with those tantalizing words, Phelps quickly struck down any thought of returning to competitive swimming.

He simply doesn’t have any motivation to add to his record haul.

“Would I like to break a world record? Yeah, obviously,” Phelps said. “But I also know what I did to prepare for Rio. I thought I did a pretty damn good job of getting myself ready to go. I didn’t want any what-ifs 20 years down the road. Twenty years down the road, I won’t have that. I’ll be able to say I was happy with how I finished my career. I was happy to be able to have my family there, to have my first-born there to watch. I’ll have those memories forever.

“All good things must come to an end eventually. That was the best way to go out.”

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