Ryan Lochte faces his smallest Worlds schedule ever after throwaway 2014

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Ryan Lochte is swimming his fewest individual events at major international meet in 11 years at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in a little more than two weeks.

He’s coming off what he called probably the worst year of his career, which followed the worst injury of his career in November 2013 and retirement thoughts.

Yet Lochte is once again front and center.

Michael Phelps is suspended from Worlds. The biggest stars from Australia (James Magnussen), France (Yannick Agnel), Japan (Kosuke Hagino) and South Korea (Park Tae-hwan) will also be absent.

Qualifying for Worlds took place last year for U.S. swimmers.

Lochte made the Worlds team in two events — the 200m individual medley and the 200m freestyle — after winning a single individual medal at the year’s major international meet, the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia in August. It marked the first time he failed to win multiple individual medals at an Olympics, Worlds or Pan Pacs since his major international meet debut at the Athens 2004 Olympics.

For all that, Lochte blamed himself.

“I wasn’t in the shape that I wanted to be in,” Lochte said recently. “I had injuries and everything. … I wasn’t training as hard as I should have. My focus wasn’t there. We’re going to throw 2014 out. That year is gone.”

He undoubtedly came back too early by swimming in a February 2014 meet three months after tearing an MCL (via what Lochte has said was an overzealous fan running into him and him falling and hitting a curb). The knee hurt then, and it hurt even more two months later when he re-tore it.

Lochte added Thursday, “I should have stuck with rehab a little bit better. I should have took care of myself outside of the pool.”

With coach David Marsh, whom Lochte calls a “mad scientist,” the 11-time Olympic medalist has experimented. Lochte, who has said he’s eaten pizza and wings every Friday since he was 8, started a new technique off turns around early July, when he rolled onto his back while kicking under water en route to freestyle legs.

“I’m becoming my normal self again,” he said.

He still must prove it. Lochte ranks in the world top 20 in one individual event this year, the 200m IM. Four years ago, Lochte swooped four individual gold medals at the World Championships and became the man to beat — rather than Phelps — going into the London Olympics.

This year, he will benefit greatly from the absence of Phelps, Hagino, Agnel and Park at Worlds.

Lochte is the three-time defending World champion in the 200m IM. In Kazan, he won’t have to face the three-time reigning Olympic champion Phelps nor Hagino, the man who beat both Phelps and Lochte at Pan Pacs last year.

Lochte won gold in the 200m free at the 2011 Worlds and was fourth in the event at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds. In Kazan, he won’t have to face the 2008 Olympic champion Phelps nor Agnel and Park, who won gold and silver at the 2012 Olympics.

Lochte refused to acknowledge that winning those two events, his only two individual events, at Worlds would mean less without stars in the lanes next to him.

“There’s so many other swimmers out there that are up and coming,” Lochte said. “I’m not always really focused on, ‘Oh well Michael’s not there or Hagino, I can easily win.’ … Just because they’re not there doesn’t mean it should be a shoo-in for me.”

One thing’s for certain. Lochte will have more free time at Worlds than he’s used to at major meets. He swam four individual events each at his busiest at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics.

“I don’t know if it makes it a little easier [swimming fewer events], just because I’ve always been that swimmer that loves racing,” Lochte said. “The more races I do, the better I am.”

He may return to a loaded schedule next year. Lochte has made it a habit of not revealing his goals (a Phelps habit, too) but said recently that swimming the grueling 400m individual medley was “not out of the question” at the 2016 Olympic trials.

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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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 vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan 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