Swim race mishaps emerge at U.S. Championships

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IRVINE , Calif. — The fastest swimmer doesn’t always win.

Any number of issues can derail a race, and they can even take down the world’s best.

Shocking lapses from Michael Phelps and two-time Olympic medalist Elizabeth Beisel made waves on the first two nights of the U.S. Swimming Championships.

Phelps mistimed a flip turn in the 100m freestyle final Wednesday, barely touching the wall with his feet. He lost significant momentum and finished seventh.

Beisel was more glaring in slipping to begin the 200m backstroke Thursday. Rather than launching backward off the start, she dropped into the water and essentially had to start the distance from a dead hang.

Beisel, the Olympic 200m back bronze medalist, finished sixth, 3.99 seconds behind Missy Franklin.

They are what swimmers call age-grouper mistakes, stuff that happens when they’re starting to compete as kids.

“Olympians make mistakes, too,” Beisel said.

What specific problems befall them?

“Everything,” seven-time Olympic medalist Aaron Peirsol said. “My goggles have filled up. My suit’s fallen down. My suit has ripped. I’ve missed walls. I’ve slipped off blocks. I’ve slipped off pads. I’ve slipped off pads at the Olympic Games.”

The most famous recent race mishaps include Phelps, when his goggles filled with water in the 200m butterfly final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Phelps still won of course, en route to his eight-for-eight gold effort, but he tossed his cap and goggles on the Water Cube deck in obvious frustration. The goal-oriented Phelps eyed a faster time before he was blinded.

Nathan Adrian‘s suit ripped on the starting blocks of the 100m free at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in March 2012, four months before he won the event at the London Olympics.

Adrian still won the race in Indianapolis, and quickly covered his exposed butt crack with a white towel after getting out of the pool.

Disqualifications happen in many ways, too. In breaststroke especially, swimmers are monitored closely for taking one too many dolphin kicks at the start or off walls before resuming the stroke.

Australia’s greatest swimmer ever, Ian Thorpe, lost his balance on the block and fell into the pool for a false start at the 2004 Olympic Trials.

Relay swimmers mistime exchanges and jump into the pool too quickly, like Ian Crocker did at the 2007 World Championships in the medley relay, denying Phelps an eighth gold medal at that meet.

Twelve-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin has been disqualified for staying under water too long off the start of a freestyle race.

“There’s only so much you can really prepare for,” Peirsol said. “You kind of just have to accept stuff’s going to happen. If you stick around long enough, you’ll see everything.”

The backstroke slip would be all but eliminated by a special wedge to aid swimmers at the start. It was planned to be implemented at Nationals for the first time this week, but FINA cooled on the prototype, and it won’t debut until the fall at the earliest (Swimming World has more here).

Beisel can’t worry about that now. She moved on Friday to her next event, the 400m individual medley, hoping she can qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships team.

“Hopefully I got all my bad luck out of the way,” Beisel said.

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final