Adam Peaty, Project 56 met, builds the biggest gap in swimming

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By the numbers, Adam Peaty, not Katie Ledecky, is the most dominant swimmer in history in a single Olympic event.

The British 24-year-old owns the 18 fastest 100m breaststroke times after winning his third straight world title on Monday in Gwangju, South Korea. Peaty came to worlds the lone man to break 58 seconds in the event.

Then in Sunday’s semifinals, he became the first man to break 57, lowering the world record, for the fifth time, to 56.88 and achieving the goal of what he called “Project 56.”

“There’s no word except incredible,” said Peaty, a Greek gods and history buff who after his 2016 Olympic title got several tattoos, including a lion and Poseidon on his left arm. “Obviously I’ve been chasing that for three years now, ever since I touched that board in Rio.”

Peaty is 2.42 percent faster than the second-fastest man in history (Belarusian Ilya Shymanovich, who has gone 58.29), using Shymanovic’s time as the base for the math.

That surpasses Ledecky’s 1.88 and 1.96 percent increases over the second-fastest women in the 800m and 1500m frees, respectively. One event on the world championships program has a larger gap, Sarah Sjostrom in the 50m butterfly (2.55 percent), but the 50m fly is not swum at the Olympics.

So Peaty has that to shoot for. (The biggest gap in track and field appears to be the 4.28 percent separating retired world-record holder Jan Zelezny from the world in the javelin).

In Monday’s final, Peaty expressed a bit of regret after clocking 57.14, even though no other man has ever come within a second of it.

“Ran out of a bit of steam on the back end, but I’m still learning a lot about the event,” he said. “That constant expectation I put on myself is a little bit disappointed in me, but I think that will fuel me for next year because I know how bad I want to go near 56.”

Peaty didn’t realize he could become an Olympian until watching the 2012 London Games at age 17.

He burst onto the scene two years later in an event where Great Britain had not earned an Olympic or world title since 1988, going from ranked No. 168 in the world in 2012, to No. 11 in 2013 to No. 1 in 2014 and breaking the world record for the first time in 2015.

“I’ve got a lot of learning to do, a lot of pacing to do,” Peaty said in Gwangju. “We’ve always said, do it once, do it twice, do it better.”

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U.S. Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying teams named with former NBA player, WNBA stars

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Former NBA player Robbie Hummel and WNBA stars lead U.S. Olympic qualifying teams in the new Olympic event of 3×3 basketball.

The four-man and four-woman teams will compete in a global qualifier in India in March, each favored to grab one of three available Olympic berths per gender for the U.S.

Hummel, who unretired to become world champion in 3×3, is joined on the U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying team by Team Princeton teammates Canyon Barry and Kareem Maddox, plus Dominique Jones, who has played with Team Harlem. Team Princeton is guided by an investment firm CEO who once beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Last year, Hummel, Maddox and Barry (one of Rick Barry‘s sons) were part of a team that won the world title.

The U.S. women’s 3×3 qualifying roster is made up of WNBA stars Napheesa Collier, Stefanie DolsonAllisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. The U.S.’ top-ranked 3×3 player, as of last month, is Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, who can’t play internationally this spring as she is in the thick of the NCAA season.

Olympic teams will not necessarily be made up of players from the qualifying tournament.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely active NBA players will be eligible.

Like with the qualifying tournament, two of the four Olympic players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in FIBA 3×3 rankings (as of a May 22 cutoff).

In 3×3, games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

MORE: Kobe Bryant embraced the Olympics, on and off the court

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First U.S. sailors qualify for Olympics; gold medalist misses on tiebreak

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The first five members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team were finalized this past weekend. The last American sailor to win an Olympic title missed on a tiebreaker.

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (49er FX), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17) and Charlie Buckingham (Laser) qualified after world championships competition concluded in Australia. The U.S. Olympic roster across all sports is now at 43 qualified athletes.

The closest race for a U.S. Olympic spot came in 49er FX. Roble and Shea edged Paris Henken and 2008 Olympic champion Anna Tobias on a tiebreak. Roble and Shea, both first-time Olympic qualifiers, won Saturday’s medal race and earned an overall bronze medal.

That put the two U.S. duos in a tie in Olympic qualifying — combining placements from the 2019 and 2020 Championships, according to TeamUSA.org. The tiebreak went to Roble and Shea for having the better finish at this year’s worlds.

Tobias, a 37-year-old who won the individual 2008 Olympic Laser Radial as Anna Tunnicliffe, came out of retirement in a bid for a third Olympics. She left competitive sailing in 2014, took up CrossFit competitions and returned to crew for Henken more than two years ago.

“We are very sad and upset,” was posted on Tobias’ Instagram, “but we wish them [Roble and Shea] the best of luck.”

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