U.S. Rowing
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U.S. rowers fight back against COVID-19 in real world and virtual world

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In the last month, COVID-19 has affected the U.S. rowing community in many of the same ways the virus has affected all athletes — changes in training routines, a mental reset with the postponement of the Olympics, and at least one athlete falling ill.

What’s unique to U.S. Rowing is that it is still staging a national championship. The federation isn’t violating social distancing protocols or playing video-game tournaments as we’ve seen in sports such as basketball and curling.

Athletes will be rowing. They’ll just be doing so on land.

Welcome to the USRowing Virtual Youth Championships Series.

Rowers have deadlines to turn in times on a 2,000m virtual course, recorded by a Concept2 ergometer. Regional championships will end May 17, with the nationals wrapping up June 14.

Equipment is already in high demand. Rowing machines have sold out as many people — not just elite rowers but those who may or may not have ever rowed on water — seek exercises they can do without access to a gym.

Many Olympic hopefuls have scattered for training as well. Up until a few weeks ago, many were training in Princeton, N.J. One was Olivia Coffey, a bronze medalist in the women’s eight at the 2019 world rowing championships.

READ: Once-unbeatable women’s eight goes into Olympics as world bronze medalist

Coffey fell ill in late March with a probable bout of COVID-19 and left Princeton for Burdett, Minn., where she and her husband have a house, the Elmira Star-Gazette reported.

U.S. Rowing confirmed March 26 that a staff member at Princeton tested positive for the virus.

Dana Moffat, another member of the bronze medalist women’s eight, has posted pictures and videos of herself working in rural New Jersey.

Emily Regan, a gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics and three-time world champion, summed up the situation succinctly on Twitter: “I’ll be training hard in my apartment (for now) to be ready.”

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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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