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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Regan Smith swims another historic backstroke time at Pro Series meet

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Regan Smith, who last summer broke both backstroke world records, put up the fastest 100m back in history outside of a major international meet or trials competition on Saturday.

Smith, a 17-year-old Minnesota high school senior, clocked 58.26 seconds to win at a Pro Series meet in Knoxville, Tenn. It tied for the 12th-fastest time in history. None of the other fastest dozen came in January, six months out from when swimmers peak for the world’s biggest events like the Olympics.

Making it more impressive: Smith did it 27 minutes after finishing second in the 200m butterfly, which she’s also expected to contest at June’s Olympic trials in Omaha.

“It actually wasn’t as bad, as I was nervous it was going to be,” Smith, whose world record is 57.57, said of the double on NBCSN. Smith entered two events per day at the three-day Knoxville meet, in part to prepare for the trials, where she is slated to race six straight days in a bid to make the Olympic team in enough events to swim eight straight days in Tokyo.

On Saturday, Smith held off fellow 17-year-old Phoebe Bacon by six tenths. Bacon beat Smith at the U.S. Open in December, posting the second-fastest time among Americans in the event for 2019.

The teen emergence puts pressure on Kathleen Baker, the Rio Olympic silver medalist who had the world record before Smith took it at worlds.

Full Knoxville results are here. USASwimming.org live streams the last night of finals Sunday at 6:30 ET.

In other events Saturday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger overcame Smith in the 200m fly, winning in 2:08.34. Smith, third-fastest among Americans last season, was .39 behind. The second-fastest American last year, Katie Drabot, was not in the field. The top two at trials make the Olympic team.

Erika Brown beat world champion Simone Manuel in a freestyle sprint for a second straight meet, taking the 50m free in 24.57 seconds.

Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, edged Manuel by .06 and took .01 off her personal best. Brown ranked third among Americans last year behind Manuel (24.05) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.47).

Brown also defeated Manuel in the 100m free at the U.S. Open in December, moving to fourth-fastest in the U.S. last year in that event. The top six in the 100m free at trials are in line to make the Olympic team, given relay spots.

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Mikaela Shiffrin nearly makes it three-way tie for World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin came .01 shy of making it a three-way tie for a World Cup giant slalom win on Saturday, confirming GS has been the most up-for-grabs discipline for either gender in recent years.

Shiffrin, beaten in her last two slaloms, had the fastest second run to place third behind co-winners Italian Federica Brignone and Slovakian Petra Vlhova in Sestriere, Italy. The reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the GS rallied from fourth place and .42 behind after the first run.

Shiffrin still leads the World Cup overall standings by 233 points over Vlhova. The American last won Dec. 29. Though she made the podium in three of her four races since, Shiffrin expressed a lack of confidence heading into this weekend’s races at the 2006 Olympic venue.

“The most exciting thing for me is that people have stopped asking me, like, are you unbeatable?” said Shiffrin, who won a record 17 World Cup races last season and has four victories nearly halfway through this season, tied with Vlhova for most on tour. “I feel really good in GS. It’s just been a long time since [the last GS on Dec. 28].”

Vlhova earned her third victory this month after beating Shiffrin those last two slaloms. Brignone leads the GS season standings by 61 points over Shiffrin, seeking to become the sixth different woman to win that discipline title in the last six years. There are four more GS races left this season.

It’s the second straight season with a World Cup GS tie. Last Feb. 1, Shiffrin and Vlhova tied in Maribor, Slovenia.

It’s the first time the top three finishers were separated by such a small margin since the last three-way tie for a win in 2006, when Lindsey VonnMichaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Styger had the same super-G time, and fourth-place Kelly VanderBeek was .01 behind.

“Last season, I had the lucky side of the hundredths many times, so sometimes I’m not going to be on the lucky side, too,” said Shiffrin, who had three victories by .16 or tighter last season.

World Cup racing continues with a parallel giant slalom on Sunday at 5:45 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

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