Mother of three/real estate agent set for track worlds debut

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DENVER (AP) — Her training runs involved pushing a jogging stroller loaded with enough snacks to keep her toddler content. Her core workouts featured exercises as her kids climbed on her back or even joined her. Her schedule sometimes got thrown off for potty training.

This is the program that allowed Sara Vaughn, mother of three daughters, real estate agent and burgeoning 1500m runner at 31 years old, to earn a spot for the world championships in London this week.

She even borrowed a line from her youngest daughter for inspiration at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June with the third and final spot on the line: “My turn.”

“My daughter doesn’t share very well, and when someone has a toy or something that she wants, she’ll say, ‘My turn,’” said Sara, who’s coached by her husband, Brent. “In that moment, it made so much sense. I saw a couple of women in front of me that had something I wanted, and I was tired of not finishing in the top three. It was my turn.”

A standout runner out of high school in Nebraska, Sara competed at Virginia before transferring to Colorado. She got pregnant with Kiki during her sophomore year and later became an All-American in cross-country. She and Brent — a former runner at Colorado — were married July 28, 2007.

They just celebrated their 10th anniversary while training in London. And soon, they will be joined by their three daughters — Kiki, 10, Calia, 7, and Cassidy, who turns 2 on Saturday — a day after the opening round of her mom’s event.

“This summer, a family trip to Europe — that’s something we never would’ve dreamed of without this running thing,” said Sara, who will head to Paris and Barcelona with the crew for some sightseeing after worlds.

To think, she almost stepped away. Heavy emphasis on almost.

With each pregnancy, resuming her running career became increasingly difficult. Last summer at the Olympic Trials — 11 months after giving birth to Cassidy — Sara finished seventh.

Enough almost seemed to be enough. She was largely unsponsored and constantly concerned about spending money for training out of the family’s finances, which, for years, were solely based off Brent’s running deal with a shoe company.

“I had a hard time performing well when our livelihood depended on that performance,” she said.

That motivated her to become a real estate agent in 2013, just to bring in extra funds. On top of that, Brent opened a construction business about 3 ½ years ago.

“Now that we have income and stability, for me, it brought a lot of the joy back into running,” Sara said as the couple recently bought their “forever home” in Boulder. “I can enjoy competing without stressing about whether we can pay the mortgage or for swimming lessons. I don’t have that guilt that goes with running.”

Brent’s noticed a difference, too, with her fitness at another level after not making the Olympic team. She ran a personal-best time of 4:06.64 on June 10.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Brent said. “She has plenty more space to improve over the coming years.”

Brent took over coaching his wife earlier this season. First, though, they had to establish ground rules. At home, he’s Brent. At the track, he’s coach — and what Coach Brent says, goes.

“If I start to complain or whine about a workout, he won’t let that charm work,” Sara said, laughing.

Frequently, Sara will load up Cassidy in the baby jogger to squeeze in between five and nine miles, when the other two are at school.

“I have a love/hate relationship with that stroller,” she said. “I would much prefer never to run with it, because it adds extra stress, and it changes my form a little bit. But it’s such a tool when in a pinch, which is half the time.”

Baby sitters, friends, family, DVDs — to entertain the kids as she stretches — and the drop-in sitter service at her gym have proven invaluable as well.

“It takes a lot of cooperation from my kids, too, to be understanding and forgiving and supportive of their parents,” Sara said. “I’m traveling a lot. I miss recitals every once in a while. They have been awesome and supportive of their mom, which is really helpful.”

At nationals, her game plan was elementary: Stay calm on the first few laps, stay alert in the middle and stay aggressive on the last lap. The mantra “my turn” popped into her mind with the finish line in sight. Her daughter’s saying was the perfect motivator.

“I was so happy for her. I didn’t know how to contain myself,” Brent said. “It was quite a moment.”

So was this: Calling home to tell their kids the news about mom. Each had a different reaction.

“My oldest, who’s been around the sport for a long time, she kind of understands the significance of finally making the team,” recalled Sara, who’s creating a fund to help undergraduate parents so they can earn their degrees. “My middle one, a little less so, but she does understand that it meant she got to go on a cool, exciting trip to London this summer.

“And my youngest one, she’s like, ‘Hey, that’s my mom on TV!’ She was pretty excited.”

Mom’s success wasn’t the only big news around the Vaughn household in recent weeks. Cassidy is getting the hang of potty training.

“Everything feels really settled,” Sara said. “We have life stress, normal stress, but not like we did when all we were doing was running. Not that life is easier — it’s just much less stressful.”

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U.S. falls to Sweden in men’s hockey worlds semifinals

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The U.S. men’s hockey team could not end the drought.

The Americans, whose only title at a standalone world championship came in 1933, saw their gold-medal hopes extinguished in a 6-0 loss to Sweden in Saturday’s semifinals in Denmark.

Viktor Arvidsson (two goals, including an empty-netter), Magnus Paajarvi, Patric Hornqvist, Mattias Janmark and Adrian Kempe all beat U.S. goalie Keith Kinkaid. The Vancouver Canucks’ Anders Nilsson became the first goalie to shut out the U.S. in their ninth game.

Sweden, eyeing a repeat world title, will play Switzerland in Sunday’s gold-medal game. The Swiss upset Finland in the quarterfinals and Canada 3-2 in Saturday’s later semifinal. Switzerland has never won an Olympic or world title.

The U.S. plays Canada for bronze Sunday. The U.S. earned bronze in 2013 and 2015 and hasn’t finished higher than third since its last silver medal in 1950.

The U.S., with all NHL players save one on its roster, reached the final four for the fourth time in six years. The Olympic team made up of non-NHL players lost to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals in PyeongChang.

Patrick Kane headlines a U.S. roster that also includes NHL All-Stars Johnny GaudreauDylan Larkin and Cam Atkinson.

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Katie Ledecky crushes 200m freestyle field in Indianapolis

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Katie Ledecky made it three wins in three days in Indianapolis, taking the 200m freestyle by 2.64 seconds at the Pro Series meet on Friday.

Ledecky clocked 1:55.42, which ranks third in the world this year. The two fastest swimmers, Canadian Taylor Ruck and Australian Ariarne Titmus, were not in Friday’s race.

Earlier in the meet, Ledecky smashed her 1500m freestyle world record by five seconds on Wednesday and swam the second-fastest 400m free in history on Thursday.

Her 200m free on Friday, while 1.69 seconds off her personal best from the Olympics, came an hour after she placed third in a 400m individual medley.

“I’m pretty happy with it coming off the 400m IM,” Ledecky said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Full meet results are here. The meet finishes Saturday, with Ledecky entered in the 200m individual medley and 800m freestyle. NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air live coverage at 7 p.m. ET.

Also Friday, 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte competed for the first time this spring, placing fourth in the 200m free and 100m butterfly at a meet in Atlanta. Lochte is scheduled for three meets in four weeks, including his first Pro Series meet since the Rio Olympics and his 10-month suspension in Santa Clara, Calif., next month.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in July and Pan Pacific Championships in August, the two meets that will determine the 2019 World Championships team.

An hour before her 200m free, Ledecky placed third in the 400m IM, an event she doesn’t swim at major meets. Melanie Margalis, fourth in the 200m IM at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds, and NCAA champion Ella Eastin went one-two in personal-best times.

Ledecky clocked 4:38.88, 1.93 seconds behind Margalis and .45 behind her Stanford teammate Eastin. Ledecky’s time was her third-fastest ever in the 400m IM, trailing her personal best of 4:37.93.

In other events, world champion Chase Kalisz won the men’s 400m IM by 6.54 seconds in 4:10.55, the second-fastest time in the world this year behind his own 4:08.92 from March 2.

Simone Manuel took the 50m free in 24.59, the fastest time by an American this year. Manuel is the Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist in the splash and dash. Australian Cate Campbell has the fastest time in the world of 23.78, but she’s not in Indianapolis.

Eight-time Olympic medalist Nathan Adrian won the men’s 50m free in 21.97, well off Brit Pen Broud‘s fastest time this year of 21.30. Neither Proud nor world champion Caeleb Dressel were in the field.

World bronze medalist Jacob Pebley prevailed in a 200m backstroke that lacked Olympic champ Ryan Murphy. Pebley clocked 1:57.03, 1.18 seconds off his fastest time this year.

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