Dana Vollmer races at swim meet, 26 weeks pregnant

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Seven-time Olympic medalist Dana Vollmer lined up on the starting block 26 weeks pregnant at a USA Swimming meet in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday.

Vollmer raced the 50m freestyle and finished seventh out of seven swimmers in her heat, clocking 27.51 seconds. Her time was 55th out of 83 swimmers overall. Vollmer chose the 50m free as her only race of the meet because she didn’t have to make a flip turn.

“Time didn’t matter,” Vollmer told media in Mesa. “Places didn’t matter. I’ve loved being here. I loved seeing all my teammates, all the people from Rio.”

Vollmer hopes to train through as much of her pregnancy as possible, planning to come back after giving birth to her second boy for a run for her fourth Olympic team in 2020.

She isn’t the first U.S. Olympian to compete this deep into pregnancy. Most notably, 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced while 34 weeks pregnant at the 2014 U.S. Championships.

“Putting the health of the baby first doesn’t mean just sitting on the couch,” Vollmer said. “It’s better for the baby, and it’s better for me to stay active, to stay strong going into labor.”

NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will stream Mesa finals sessions at 8 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday. NBCSN will air coverage at 1 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Vollmer said last fall, before she announced her pregnancy, that she hoped to train and compete while pregnant with her second child in 2017.

Vollmer, who is due in July, took 23 months off from competition in 2013, 2014 and 2015, giving birth to baby boy Arlen on March 6, 2015. A year later, she won a medal of every color at the Rio Olympics.

Vollmer wants to spend far less time out of the pool in this pregnancy.

“I’m trying to go into this one staying way more active, staying as strong as I can,” she said. “Trying to go about it to where I’m in the best shape I can be going into labor, and then hopefully after that, it’ll definitely help. I feel like, if I took two years off and was able to come back and make Rio in a year, then I’m glad that I’ll have way more time this next time heading into Tokyo.”

Vollmer’s goal is to return to competition for the U.S. Winter Nationals in December.

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MORE: Katie Ledecky maps out world champs schedule

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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