Grant Hackett
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Grant Hackett fails to make Australian Olympic team in comeback

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Seven-time Olympic medalist Grant Hackett‘s bid for a fourth Olympics after a seven-year retirement ended at the Australian Olympic trials Friday.

Hackett, 35, finished 11th in the semifinals of the 200m freestyle, one day after he placed fourth in the 400m freestyle. Full Australian trials results are here.

He needed to make the eight-man 200m free final and finish sixth or finish second in the 400m free to become the oldest Australian Olympic swimmer of all time.

“It’s disappointing, but I gave it a shot,” Hackett said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “I was honest about my preparation and the ups and downs I had. The 400 yesterday really took it out of me. I felt great in the [preliminary] heat, but I didn’t have the fitness to keep bouncing back.

“I can get back to my normal life now.”

Hackett’s comeback was successful last year, when he finished fourth in the 200m free at the Australian Championships to make the World Championships team in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

He led off the preliminary heat relay at Worlds and wasn’t selected for the final, where Australia took bronze, still earning Hackett his 19th career Worlds medal. He debuted at Worlds in 1998 at age 17.

Hackett followed Kieren Perkins as Australia’s marquee man in its coveted race, the 1500m freestyle, taking gold in 2000 and 2004 and nearly becoming the first swimmer to win the same Olympic event three times in 2008. He took 1500m free silver in Beijing, his last international competition until the 2015 Worlds.

Four years ago, three of his teammates from Australian swimming’s golden era — Ian ThorpeMichael Klim and Geoff Huegill — all failed in Olympic comeback attempts, too.

MORE: Yannick Agnel can swim 200m free in Rio

Swimming short-course records in peril as FINA recognizes ISL times

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In the debut season of the International Swimming League, six U.S. short-course records have fallen. USA Swimming has recognized the new circuit’s times from the outset.

International body FINA, which at first threatened to ban swimmers who participated in the ISL and then said it would not recognize records from the team-based league, which debuted in October and will hold its first final meet Dec. 20-21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is now recognizing those times, and the effects on its statistics have been drastic.

MORE: Ledecky sets U.S. record in ISL debut

This morning, a downloaded list of the top times in the world this year included no ISL times. By the afternoon, times from the ISL’s meet over the weekend in College Park, Md., accounted for most of the times on the lists, including the top 10 in the women’s 50m freestyle and women’s 100m freestyle.

So far, the ISL hasn’t figured into the top five on many all-time FINA lists. But the best short-course times are typically posted near the end of the year, and the ISL has two meets remaining.

The U.S. record book has already changed. In October, Katie Ledecky set the 400m freestyle record (3:54.06) and Melanie Margalis set the 200m medley mark (2:04.18).

In College Park this weekend, Margalis also set the U.S. 400m medley record (4:24.46) and Ian Finnerty set two records the 50m breaststroke (25.99), with runner-up Michael Andrew also beating the previous record, and the 100m breaststroke (56.29). Also, Caeleb Dressel set the 50m butterfly record (22.21).

Only half of the swimmers in the ISL will advance to the final, and qualification isn’t necessarily in their hands. After the College Park meet, the Cali Condors and LA Current clinched spots in Las Vegas. That’s bad news for Andrew (New York Breakers), Finnerty (DC Trident) and Ledecky (DC Trident).

Dressel, Margalis and Lilly King — all representing the Condors — will have another shot at records in Vegas. 

FINA, as usual, is running its World Cup circuit during the fall and early winter, and some swimmers — including overall World Cup champions Vladimir Morozov and Cate Campbell — are pulling double duty between the World Cup and ISL.

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IOC announces deal with Airbnb to add housing for future Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee has moved to help with the scramble to house the influx of athletes, staff and spectators with each Olympics, making a deal with online housing broker Airbnb to add accommodations for the Games through 2028.

“The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organizers and stakeholders, minimize the need for construction of new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games period, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities,” the IOC announced.

Airbnb’s partnership also includes accommodation for disability athletes for the Paralympic Games, and the company will join large global companies such as Coca-Cola, Visa and Panasonic as worldwide Olympic partners.

Athletes also will have a chance to make money by hosting travelers.

“As an Olympian host, you can create and lead an experience inspired by your expertise and interests,” reads an explanation on the Olympic athlete support portal Athlete365.

Outside the Olympics and Olympic athlete experiences, the IOC and Airbnb are pledging to work together on long-term support to refugees.

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