Ryan Lochte’s plane diverted en route to U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Ryan Lochte knew there would be obstacles on his way to qualifying for his fourth Olympics. He just wasn’t expecting one while trying to get to the U.S. swimming trials.

Lochte’s plane from Charlotte, North Carolina, was diverted to Kansas City, Missouri, because of an oxygen issue, leaving him and his Swim MAC teammates short of their final destination of Omaha. The plane flew at 10,000 feet until it landed safely.

Then the group found a YMCA pool in which to train, surprising the lifeguards and others who had no idea they were being invaded by Olympic-caliber talent.

“One of the lap swimmers said, ‘Gosh, they’re moving through the water awfully fast,'” Lochte’s coach David Marsh said, “and I was like, ‘Yeah, they’re pretty good.”

The group was supposed to take a bus to Omaha, but Marsh realized that would take too long, so they rented two vehicles to make the trip in three hours. Instead of arriving by mid-afternoon on Thursday, they didn’t get to town until midnight.

“I was in first class, true, but still, it was a long travel day,” Lochte said Friday. “David was always saying to us throughout the year, prepare yourself for the worst, and that’s just one thing that we were able to overcome.”

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Lochte’s next challenge comes Sunday, the opening day of the trials when he competes in the 400-meter individual medley. At 31, he’s the oldest of the event’s 100 qualifiers and comes in with the fourth-fastest time.

“When I was younger I was able to recover a lot quicker,” he said. “I’m definitely going to have to do a lot more recovery after the race than I usually do, just so I can have those great races the next days.”

He won gold in the 400 IM four years ago in London. Only the top two finishers at trials make the U.S. team.

“I enjoy it because you can’t be great in one stroke, you have to be good in everything, and it’s a challenge,” Lochte said. “There’s a lot of young guys up and coming and that definitely will be a good battle.”

Lochte’s main competition in the 400 IM will be Tyler Clary, who just missed qualifying by finishing third behind Michael Phelps and Lochte four years ago. Clary owns the leading qualifying time for these trials.

“My biggest opponent will be myself, just because you have to have a certain mindset when you get up on those blocks,” Lochte said. “If my mindset is right, I’m definitely going to do really well. In the U.S. alone, we have had four or five guys that go under 4:13, so it’s definitely going to be a close race.”

Phelps has dropped the 400 IM from the program for his fifth and final Olympics. In London, he struggled to a fourth-place finish in the event in which he holds the world record.

Lochte toyed with following suit, never confirming until Friday that he would indeed swim the grueling event, even though it costs him precious recovery time for his shorter races later in the eight-day trials.

“I could, but then it wouldn’t be fun,” he said, smiling. “For me, fun is a challenge.”

MORE: U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials men’s event-by-event preview

2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

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But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

Also Wednesday, 108th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in four and a half hours. Wawrinka’s exit leaves Novak Djokovic as the lone man in the draw who has won the French Open and Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz as the lone men left who have won any major.

The top seed Alcaraz beat 112th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard gets 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the third round. Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, swept 83rd-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to reach a third-round date with 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

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Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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