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

Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

Kim Kalicki

Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

LG Snowboard-Cross FIS World Cup

Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.