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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Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail at world championships, has surgery

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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail at the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title, and underwent leg surgery as a result.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, who had a left leg laceration, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Bologna, Italy, about 25 miles from the worlds host of Imola.

“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been,” USA Cycling chief of sport performance Jim Miller said in a press release. “While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter. With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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