Conor Dwyer

Conor Dwyer focused on Doha after losing Michael Phelps, Yannick Agnel

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Conor Dwyer temporarily moved across the country after losing his top training partners, Michael Phelps and Yannick Agnel, in a matter of weeks.

Dwyer left his Baltimore base for the West Coast to train for his next major meet, the World Short Course Championships in Doha from Dec. 3-7.

“Once everyone left, that’s why I just wanted to go out, enjoy some sun, train outside and kind of figure out what I’m doing,” said Dwyer, who trained in Los Angeles and at altitude in Flagstaff, Ariz., and stayed with family the last month.

Dwyer was just coming back from deviated septum surgery when he woke to the news of Phelps’ DUI arrest on Sept. 30.

“I hadn’t gotten to speak to [Phelps] much about what happened,” Dwyer said while visiting New York last week. “Obviously, I told him I’m there for him. He’s a good guy through and through. [Phelps is] just trying to take care of business. We know he’ll be back.”

Agnel, who beat Dwyer for World Championships 200m freestyle gold in 2013, announced his departure from North Baltimore Aquatic Club two weeks before Phelps’ arrest. Agnel went back to France but said he left on good terms with North Baltimore coach Bob Bowman.

Phelps can’t swim competitively for another five months. He’s also out of the World Championships next August.

Phelps entered a six-week program to get help last month. It was unknown if or when he would return to training under Bowman at North Baltimore.

“I miss training with them,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer said Bowman is still his full-time coach, and the swimmer is still affiliated with North Baltimore, but hasn’t set plans beyond short course Worlds in December. Bowman agreed with how Dwyer described it.

Out west, the swimmer’s been training with a group under veteran coaches Dave Salo and Jon Urbanchek.

Dwyer won the USA Swimming Grand Prix series overall title this past season, performing the best over months’ worth of domestic competitions.

He hopes to make his second Olympic team in 2016 by qualifying in five individual events, but Dwyer only managed to make the 2015 World Championships team in one of them (200m free).

Phelps’ absence at Worlds makes Dwyer a more vital part of the U.S.’ 4x100m and 4x200m free relay teams. Dwyer won Olympic gold in the 4x200m free in London.

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Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

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Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

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Kolohe Andino is first U.S. Olympic surfing qualifier; Kelly Slater faces last chance

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Kolohe Andino is the first American to qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut, which leaves one spot left for 47-year-old Kelly Slater to chase at the final contest of the season.

Andino, a 25-year-old Californian whose first name means “rascal” in Hawaiian, clinched his place in Tokyo on Friday at the penultimate stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour in Portugal. He is ranked fifth in the world, trailing a trio of Brazilians.

One more American man will join Andino on the Olympic team. It will be one of Slater, the 11-time world champion, John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 World champion, and rising 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz.

Slater was handed a golden opportunity to qualify when Florence announced in early July that he tore an ACL for the second time in 13 months. Florence had won two of the first five events this season.

Slater has been chasing the sidelined Florence in the standings ever since. But it has not been easy.

Slater hasn’t made the quarterfinals in any of his last seven contests going into December’s finale — the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said in July, noting a back injury. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, who won the Pipe Masters seven times between 1992 and 2013, must reach the quarterfinals at this year’s event to have any chance of passing Florence to qualify for the Olympics.

Complicating matters: Florence said in August it was his “goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points,” according to ESPN.com. If Florence does return for the December contest, and makes the quarterfinals, Slater could only pass him with a victory.

Moniz goes into the finale ranked one spot behind Slater, meaning he, too, can grab that second and final Olympic spot with a win or a runner-up.

Slater, who turns 48 on Feb. 11, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, according to the OlyMADMen.

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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