U.S. swimmers find different pools for training; USA Swimming adjusts schedule

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With Stanford’s primary aquatic facility closed, it appears Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel found a different pool two miles up the road.

“So proud that Menlo Circus Club offered its pool while the world adjusts,” longtime commentator Ted Robinson tweeted, accompanying a photo of the swimmers. “A shining example of the generosity of community that will be our strength.”

Menlo, reached Monday, said the facilities, including a 25-yard pool, were made available to swimmers who were guests of a member.

This came after pools at some of the nation’s top swimming hubs were closed due to coronavirus concerns. This includes the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida and Stanford.

“Not too much to share other than the majority of our team has gone home to be with family,” Greg Meehan, the Stanford head coach and the U.S. Olympic women’s team coach for the Tokyo Games, said in an email Sunday. “We have a very small group here, including [Ledecky and Manuel], and we are utilizing local pools for the time being until we establish a long term plan. Things are very fluid and the groups done a great job of being patient and going with the flow.”

On Monday evening, USA Swimming announced the cancellation of the next-to-last Tyr Pro Series meet before June’s Olympic Trials. The meet was scheduled for Mission Viejo, Calif., from April 16-19, flipping the finals to the morning to mimic the Tokyo Olympic schedule.

The last Pro Series meet before trials — May 6-9 in Indianapolis — is still scheduled, though that could change in the coming days and weeks. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended not holding gatherings of 50 or more people for eight weeks, which would run to May 10.

The U.S.’ best swimmers use the Pro Series to prep for trials and major international meets. For now, some are just looking to find a consistent training base.

“It just has been a waiting game and things are changing each hour,” Stanford senior and world 200m butterfly bronze medalist Katie Drabot said, according to Swimming World. “It is weird. My bags are packed and I am waiting to know where to go.”

Swimmers often spend weeks at a time at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s training center in Colorado Springs for high-altitude camps. A USOPC spokesperson said Monday, after speaking with national governing bodies, “at this time, there is no pathway to the OTC for anyone that’s not on the campus” though there have been other considerations “on a rolling basis.”

Pro swimmers who usually train at Indiana University, including Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Lilly King, and the University of California were either at the OTC already or en route late last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

David Boudia, a four-time Olympic medalist diver, said Sunday he was still allowed to train at Purdue but believed the facility may close.

“Safe to say there are a number of NGBs and athletes groups that are being impacted by campus closures,” the USOPC spokesperson said.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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