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Daniela Ryf overcomes jellyfish stings, breaks Ironman Kona course record by 20 minutes

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Two minutes before the 6:40 a.m. start of Ironman Kona, three-time champion Daniela Ryf felt something unusual during her warm-up drills in Kailua Bay.

“Jellyfish under my armpits on both sides sting me,” Ryf said in a Triathlete.com video interview. “Yeah, it was a bit of a shock. I was like, oh no. I tried to convince myself this didn’t happen.”

It’s just about the worst place to get stung before Saturday’s 2.4-mile swim. Ryf said it was “very painful” to make it out of the water in 57 minutes, 26 seconds, more than nine minutes behind the race leader.

She made up the deficit on Brit Lucy Charles on the 112-mile bike and ended up winning her fourth straight Ironman world title after the marathon run. Ryf prevailed by 10 minutes in 8:26:18, shattering her course record by 20 minutes in perfect, windless weather.

Ryf came “very, very close” to quitting in the water. She was surprised to find that she wasn’t in last place going into the bike.

“I really didn’t know if I’m going to make it, actually, if I’m going to just drown,” Ryf said in a Triathlonworld.com video interview. “I could barely lift my arms and they start to get numb.”

MORE: Ironman Results

Ryf, a Swiss who converted to distance triathlons after finishing 40th at the 2012 Olympics, was asked the next morning how she treated the stings once she got out of the water and into the transition zone.

“I’m not sure if I should tell you that because there’s two things you can do,” she said in a video interview with triathlon historian Bob Babbitt. “You can put vinegar on it. They didn’t have vinegar in that tent. I did some, how do you call it?”

Did you pee on it, Babbitt asked her.

“I improvised,” Ryf said, averting the question.

The sting may have caused Ryf to miss her goal of finishing within 30 minutes of the men’s winner. German Patrick Lange was 33:49 faster in shattering his men’s course record by nine minutes.

But as Ryf swam, she lowered her expectations, thinking about finishing in up to 15 hours.

“I just wanted to get out of that water and, hopefully, it would burn a bit less if I don’t need my arms anymore [on the bike and run],” she said.

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VIDEO: Lange wins Ironman, proposes to girlfriend

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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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