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Katelin Guregian’s last call in rowing — help the U.S. women’s eight regain its crown

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Katelin Guregian jokes that she had 20 different addresses in the last eight years as the coxswain of the decorated U.S. women’s eight. That’s not that uncommon in rowing, where the best of the best often live with host families near the national team center in Princeton, N.J.

Guregian, who in the last Olympic cycle guided the American program to a third straight gold medal and sixth, seventh and eighth straight world titles, will move again after this summer.

She has lived apart from her husband, fellow Rio Olympic rower Nareg Guregian, for two and a half years. Nareg now works for Visa, based in California. She turns 33 a week after the Olympics and wants to start a family.

“Absolutely it’s my last Olympics,” Guregian said in November, adding that she wants to make Tokyo her last regatta of any kind. “Rowing, you have to give everything in order to be successful. For me, it’s not sustainable to keep giving everything for another quad. Even this quad, there have been some times where I’ve been like, oh man, not this again. You can’t have that thought. You can’t voice that thought. It’s like, OK, I’m ready. It’s someone else’s turn.”

Guregian, an Orlando native, crashed into a dock in her debut as a coxswain. The hull cracked in two places, and the boat had to be sent back to the manufacturer to be repaired.

She went on to cox the men’s team at the University of Washington. Then succeeded two-time Olympic champion Mary Whipple at the stern of the U.S. women’s program, extending the golden reign from 2013-16.

U.S. coach Tom Terhaar still remembers the end of the Rio Olympic final. Guregian, 5 feet, 4 inches and 110 pounds, violently splashed her arms into the water at about 1,995 meters of a 2,000-meter race.

“And some of the other athletes going, well, I guess we crossed the finish line,” Terhaar said with a laugh. “She was probably too excited to even speak, and that was the way she could express it.”

But Guregian’s favorite memory was in the meat of the six-minute cauldron: the third quarter from 1000m to 1500m. The grittiest part of a race, she likes to say. The U.S. went from third to first and never looked back.

“The only thing I said [to the team] was, ‘We are the United States women’s eight,'” Guregian remembered, conjuring Whipple’s call during the Beijing 2008 final that started this Olympic run. “We were here for this, and this is what we want, and we are here for each other, and we’re here for the women that came before us, was enough to help us execute our race.”

That kind of statement showed what made Guregian a special coxswain.

“She isn’t sitting back there critiquing and setting herself apart from the performance,” Terhaar said. “She’s completely in it, completely one of them. … It’s never they. It’s always we.”

The U.S. women’s eight, dubbed a dynasty throughout the Rio Olympic cycle, since experienced major defeat for the first time in more than a decade. The Americans were fourth at worlds in 2017. After gold in 2018, they earned bronze this past summer with two other returning members from Rio (one of them coming out of retirement).

“That’s such a crummy feeling,” Guregian said. “My role on the team is two-fold because I’m helping people understand what they need to do in order to never be in that position again, but I’m also trying to convey to everyone, don’t overthink it.”

Guregian does more than that. She cuts her teammates’ hair. She is also mentoring Leigh Warner, the 2018 Stanford graduate and coxswain-in-waiting for the next Olympic cycle. Together, they created a jocular Instagram — @launchtalks — to “deal with the stresses of training.”

“I want to be part of [Warner’s] journey so that if she’s successful in 2024, I will feel like I have part of that,” Guregian said. “I will feel pride and ownership in her success, even though it’s not me executing.”

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Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement