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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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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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