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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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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Primoz Roglic, ex-ski jumper, wins Vuelta a Espana

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In a year of new talent in cycling, a former world junior champion ski jumper won the last Grand Tour.

Primoz Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, won the Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to capture a Grand Tour. He prevailed by 2 minutes, 16 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde after Sunday’s final stage, a largely ceremonial ride into Madrid.

“Not much words to say about it,” Roglic said in a speech atop the podium. “See you next races.”

Roglic, 29, became the fifth straight first-time Grand Tour champion dating to Geraint Thomas‘ 2018 Tour de France title.

Roglic benefited from Thomas and other stars like Chris Froome skipping the Vuelta, but he also had the credentials, having finished fourth in the 2018 Tour and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Valverde deserves acclaim, too, having, at age 39, made his ninth Grand Tour podium and seventh at the Vuelta. Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, has gone 16 years between his first and most recent Vuelta podium. He also had a record-breaking 19th Grand Tour top 10, according to Gracenote.

Then there’s third-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, a 20-year-old Slovenian who became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, joined Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Colombian Egan Bernal as this year’s Grand Tour winners. All ride for different teams.

Roglic is with Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.

Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta.

The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.

MORE: Chris Froome: Pre-Tour de France crash like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ scene

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