Regan Smith swam through one last obstacle in 2020

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Regan Smith, who made one of the great leaps in global swimming in 2019, experienced a disparate 2020 with obstacles right through the holidays.

There was the Olympic postponement last March. Smith wasn’t alone in being impacted — 10,000 athletes compete at the Games across all sports, and more than 1,000 Americans are legitimate Olympic hopefuls.

Then Smith, who graduated virtually from high school in June after two months out of the pool, faced a more unique dilemma among the world’s best athletes during the pandemic.

She deferred enrollment at Stanford to stay at home in Minnesota. She’s on the first break from classwork of her life.

As 2021 approached, Smith adapted again.

The Olympic-size pool 40 minutes from her house was shut down for six weeks, including the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. She had been training there twice a week, supplementing her practices in a smaller pool closer to home.

“It’s been really, really tough over quarantine to stay motivated,” Smith said after racing two events on the first day of USA Swimming’s Pro Series in San Antonio on Friday (weekend TV schedule here). “Very, very mentally difficult to make it through those six weeks.”

Smith, who broke the 100m and 200m backstroke world records at the 2019 World Championships, won the 100m butterfly and finished second in the 200m freestyle at her first meet of 2021.

The times were not her fastest (few top swimmers record personal bests in January), and the fields didn’t include the favorites for June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for Tokyo.

“We kind of shook the rust off a little bit today,” she said, noting she was “super stoked” with the freestyle and that butterfly — not backstroke — is her favorite stroke.

Her program this weekend — both backstrokes, both butterflies and the 200m free — leads one to wonder what events the versatile swimmer is considering for the trials.

This time last year, the plan was to race at least both backstrokes and the 200m fly (where she ranks second among Americans since the start of 2019). Smith is less established in the 100m fly and 200m free but still dangerous if she devotes focus to them.

Smith could add both events to her trials slate and still not have any more than two swims in a single session in Omaha.

Asked Friday night if she thought about what she wanted to swim at trials, Smith replied, “Not a ton.”

“Especially after the postponement I just kind of wanted to get my head away from that for a little while,” she said on Olympic Channel. “I’ve been having a blast training fly and free. I’m really excited about both of those events, so we’ll see.”

Smith is staying positive, cherishing the additional year she can spend with her family, boyfriend, coach Mike Parratto, swim team and dogs — Tasha, an American Eskimo and Jinger, a daisy.

“Definitely for like a week or two I kind of had some FOMO,” about not being at Stanford, she said. “College will come when it comes. Some day I’m going to have to move away from home and my family. I just want to enjoy it while I still can.”

Smith said that she transitioned “from kid to adult” in the sport in the last two years. She recalled her state of mind on New Year’s Day in 2020 and the prevalent place that the Olympics occupied.

“I think I was a lot more in my head about it last year, whereas this year we’ve all had plenty of time to get a grip on things mentally,” Smith said. “Instead of being worried about how quickly they’re coming up, I’m really just trying to be excited and be like it’s finally go-time and treat it like that instead of treating it like it’s some big scary thing, because it’s not. It should be exciting.”

In other potential Olympic Trials previews on Friday, Chase Kalisz beat training partner Jay Litherland in a showdown between the reigning Olympic and world silver medalists in the 400m individual medley. Kalisz clocked 4:17.26, beating Litherland by .98. Litherland still has the fastest time since the start of 2019 (4:09.22), followed by Charlie Swanson (4:11.46, but fourth on Friday) and Kalisz (4:13.07).

Nic Fink knocked off the U.S.’ first-, third- and fourth-fastest men in the 100m breaststroke since the start of 2019. Fink clocked 1:00.84, relegating Olympic silver medalist Cody Miller to second and top-ranked Andrew Wilson to sixth. Fink ranks seventh in the U.S. since the start of 2019.

University of Florida junior Kieran Smith, who is ranked third in the U.S. in the 200m free since the start of 2019, beat the only two men who have gone faster — Andrew Seliskar and Townley Haas.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe are the highest-seeded Americans, looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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