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Michael Phelps’ deadline for comeback passing by

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Michael Phelps has repeated — over and over and over again — that he will not unretire (for a second time) for a 2020 Olympic bid.

Whether those listening believe he will stick to that is now moot: Phelps, in the unforeseen event he wants to come back, must have notified swimming’s international governing body by this week (perhaps before this week) to be eligible for June’s Olympic trials.

When U.S. Olympic-caliber swimmers unretire, they must re-enter the drug-testing pool six months before they are allowed to compete in high-profile events like trials. To compete at trials, which begin June 21, swimmers must post a qualifying time in an even earlier meet.

Remember that Phelps re-entered the drug-testing pool in 2013 — but did not announce that he did until a few months later — in his comeback for the Rio Olympics.

“If I was racing in the 2020 Games, then that would mean that I would have to be into the drug-testing pool by this point, right, because I have to make Olympic trials, all that process, it’s a nine-month window,” Phelps said on The Dan Patrick Show in October, referencing the previous nine-month rule that was in effect for his previous comeback but has since been shortened to six. “I’m not in the testing pool right now. It’s less than a year away, and there’s not enough time.”

By 2024, Phelps will be 39 years old. Still possible for a comeback, given one American swimmer competed in the Olympics in their 40s — Dara Torres in 2008, earning three silver medals.

“I won’t be in 2020, I guarantee you that,” Phelps said in October, “and I don’t have any plans of coming back any time soon.”

MORE: Teens make splash with Olympic swim trials on horizon

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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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