Nathan Adrian
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Nathan Adrian pledged to aid coronavirus relief. Olympians around the world joined him.

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For the last decade, Nathan Adrian proved a leader for U.S. swimming as its last man, the anchor on freestyle and medley gold-medal relays. Recently, outside of the pool, Adrian again became a magnetic force for the sport, domestically and on the other side of the world.

Adrian’s marketing agency, Octagon, helped start the website athletesrelief.org last month. Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Chloe Kim are among more than 100 athletes and sports personalities who pledged items that will be raffled among donors who gave $25 or more.

All of the money goes to coronavirus relief, specifically earmarked for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) COVID-19 Response Fund.

Adrian, who owns 15 Olympic or world championships gold medals, pitched in a signed Speedo racing suit.

“If any of my fellow athletes would like to join in, leave a comment below with a signed item you’d like to donate and we’ll add it,” Adrian posted on Instagram. The replies splashed in, including from Olympic champions Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Murphy, both Cal products like Adrian.

But also athletes with a degree or two of separation, water polo champion Maggie Steffens. And Summer Sanders, the 1992 Olympic swimming gold medalist who donated a signed “Figure it Out” board game, from the 1990s Nickelodeon show that she hosted. Both Steffens and Sanders went to Stanford, Cal’s archrival.

“Hopefully whoever wins the eventual prize will appreciate it because ‘Figure it Out’ was part of my childhood,” Adrian said. “Summer Sanders, before I even knew she was a swimmer, I knew she was the host of ‘Figure it Out.'”

In total, more than 20 people from the swimming community joined after Adrian’s post — including photographers, USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey III and longtime coach Mark Schubert, who donated a Porsche experience at a California test track.

Perhaps the most head-turning contributor: Kyle Chalmers, the Australian who succeeded Adrian as Olympic 100m freestyle champion in 2016. Chalmers also added a signed racing suit to the fundraiser.

“It’s cool that a guy, for instance, Kyle Chalmers reaches out from across the Pacific Ocean,” said Adrian, whose career dates to the tail end of the heyday of the U.S.-Australia swimming rivalry in the 2000s. “That’s something special. I mean, I’m friendly with Kyle. When we see each other, we’ll joke around, have a good time. But it’s not like I text him every day. So to have him reach out of the blue is pretty cool.”

Total donations combining items from all athletes were up to $196,000 as of this afternoon. The campaign was recently extended from May 1 to June 1.

“The cool part about was how the rest of the swim community started rallying around the cause,” Adrian said. “It’s really cool to be part of a community that wants to help, that wants to do something during this time. I’m not necessarily calling anybody else out by any means, but it’s nice to be a part of a community that felt the urge to want to help during this time.”

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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.

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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.

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