Kathleen Baker breaks 100m backstroke world record (video)

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IRVINE, Calif. — For the last year, the number 58.10 flashed on Kathleen Baker‘s phone as a regular reminder. She will now change that to 57.99.

Baker, the Olympic and world 100m backstroke silver medalist, broke the world record in the event at the U.S. Swimming Championships on Saturday night.

The 21-year-old clocked 58.00 seconds, taking one tenth off Canadian Kylie Masse‘s world record. Masse set the mark at the 2017 Worlds, relegating Baker to second place. Baker immediately set a reminder on her phone with the time, 58.10, and last saw it at 8 p.m. on Friday.

“I watched a lot of Shark Week, so I was channeling my inner shark,” Baker, who wore her trademark sparkly blue Uggs on the pool deck, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “Definitely unexpected.”

Well, not completely unexpected.

Baker and her coach, David Marsh, were together at the warm-up pool when Katie Ledecky was under world-record pace halfway through her 400m freestyle earlier Saturday night. Ledecky fell off the pace and still easily won, but Marsh sensed a hush in the crowd at the outdoor venue.

“When she didn’t break it, it sort of calmed back down,” he said. “I said, Kathleen, I think what the crowd needs tonight is a world record. She goes, yeah.”

Baker and the 100m back world record have a long history.

In 2008, an 11-year-old Baker was a grumpy spectator at the Olympic Trials, wishing she could be competing there. The memory of the women’s 100m back final in Omaha remains with her because she lost a tooth during the event.

As Natalie Coughlin broke the world record, Baker stood there, awestruck, with blood streaming down her chin.

Two years later, Baker was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which still affects her training.

“I really look at her face when she comes in [for practice],” Marsh said. “I ask how you feel today. If she doesn’t say excellent or outstanding, I know that she doesn’t feel good. … I’m constantly adjusting her program every day.”

That program has recently included more 200m backstroke-focused training. Baker said that and her Panera You Pick Two® lunch helped her down the stretch of Saturday’s race. Still, she knows she can improve. She nearly smacked her face on the lane rope making the turn at 50 meters.

The rising University of California senior powered home to beat Olivia Smoliga by .75, while 16-year-old Regan Smith broke the world junior record with a 58.83. Baker touched the wall and, after a brief pause, flung her left arm in the air.

“I was looking to see if I won first, and then I realized I went 58,” Baker said. “I was literally shook.”

The U.S. now owns all the Olympic backstroke event world records. Missy Franklin has the 200m back mark, while Ryan Murphy (100m back) and Aaron Peirsol (200m back) are the fastest men of all time.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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