Ryan Lochte boosted by the past for his biggest Olympic challenge ahead


Ryan Lochte finished fifth in his primary event, three months before the Olympic Trials, but he expressed confidence while at his first swim meet of the year.

That’s because he sees parallels between recent training under coach Gregg Troy at the University of Florida and his memories from the same environment a decade ago, when he supplanted Michael Phelps as the world’s best swimmer.

“The times I’m going in practice, just the yardage, the back-to-back [practices] … I’m seeing it more often. It makes me excited to see what this summer’s going to hold,” Lochte said before placing fifth in the 200m individual medley at a Pro Series stop in San Antonio on Saturday night. “I’m making the finals and being able to be in somewhat of a race with those other guys knowing that I’m dead tired [from training].”

It’s a different takeaway than Lochte’s last meet in November, which he called probably his worst ever.

Michael Andrew, who at 21 is 15 years younger than Lochte, crushed the 200m IM on Saturday. He won in 1:58.05 against a field that included four of the top five Americans since the start of 2019.

For Andrew, the 50m freestyle and 100m breaststroke have been his two primary events, but the 200m IM is now part of his focus, too.

“For years, I’ve kind of neglected pursuing that event because it’s such a tall net in terms of endurance for what I’ve always been as that sprinter,” said Andrew, the second-fastest American in the 200m IM since the start of 2019, trailing only 2017 World champion Chase Kalisz.

Lochte, the fifth-fastest American over the last two years, clocked 2:01.71 on Saturday. His world record from 2011 is 1:54.00. He likely needs to be faster than 1:57 to make the Olympic team at June’s trials, where the top two per individual event are in line to go to Tokyo. The last time he broke 1:57 was at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

“We’re swimming like a foot under water,” Lochte said of the loaded recent training with his group, with the focus on peaking in June. “We don’t have any pop, but we’re racing tough.”

Full San Antonio meet results are here. The next Pro Series stop is April 8-11 in Mission Viejo, California.

Lochte is bidding to make a fifth U.S. Olympic swim team, something only Phelps and Dara Torres have done.

He is trying to become the oldest male swimmer in U.S. Olympic history. And he is trying to do so following suspensions of 10 months in 2016 and 2017 for the Rio Olympic gas station incident and 14 months in 2018 and 2019 for the vitamin infusion photo, plus being 22 pounds overweight when he came back.

Asked Friday to pick out one area he’d like to improve in his swimming, Lochte answered, “Everything.”

“Stick with the program,” he said. “Trust the process.”

Lochte put his trust back in Troy, the man who guided him to his greatest success between 2008 and 2012. Lochte spent time with other coaches after the London Games, including David Marsh and Dave Salo, before returning to Gainesville in fall 2017.

“He’s like my second dad,” Lochte said of Troy, who turned 70 in December. Lochte has said he’s the only swimmer in the group allowed to call Troy by his nickname, “Papi,” to his face. “He got me to where I’m at. And I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.

“[Troy] did say, ‘If you’re coming back, you’re not coming back as a college student, I hope you know that,'” to which Lochte replied, “That’s past me. I’m a family man now.”

Lochte is motivated when thinking of the message he’s sending to his children, 3-year-old Caiden and 1-year-old Liv, in one final Olympic bid.

“I’ve gotten knocked down millions of times,” Lochte said in November 2019. “But, I’m getting up and I’m fighting, and I’m still fighting.”

Lochte said, upon returning from his second suspension, that he conversed with Phelps on balancing training with fatherhood. He asked if Phelps had times when he lacked the drive to swim leading up to Rio.

“He said, ‘Yeah, you have those days, but you’ve just got to think, why are you doing this again?'” Lochte said. “That’s what motivated him.”

Lochte said that Phelps texted him after the 2019 World Championships, which Lochte missed while suspended. The U.S. failed to win the 200m IM for the first time 2001 and took bronze in the 4x200m free relay, which it used to dominate with Phelps and Lochte.

“I hope you’re training really well because we need you. USA needs you,” Lochte said Phelps told him. “I’m like, ‘I’m trying.'”

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Faith Kipyegon breaks second world record in eight days; three WRs fall in Paris

Faith Kipyegon

Kenyan Faith Kipyegon broke her second world record in as many Fridays as three world records fell at a Diamond League meet in Paris.

Kipyegon, a 29-year-old mom, followed her 1500m record from last week by running the fastest 5000m in history.

She clocked 14 minutes, 5.20 seconds, pulling away from now former world record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, who ran 14:07.94 for the third-fastest time in history. Gidey’s world record was 14:06.62.

“When I saw that it was a world record, I was so surprised,” Kipyegon said, according to meet organizers. “The world record was not my plan. I just ran after Gidey.”

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, ran her first 5000m in eight years. In the 1500m, her primary event, she broke an eight-year-old world record at the last Diamond League meet in Italy last Friday.

Next year in the 1500m, Kipyegon can bid to become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track and field event three times (joining Usain Bolt). After that, she has said she may move up to the 5000m full-time en route to the marathon.

Kipyegon is the first woman to break world records in both the 1500m and the 5000m since Italian Paola Pigni, who reset them in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m over a nine-month stretch in 1969 and 1970.

Full Paris meet results are here. The Diamond League moves to Oslo next Thursday, live on Peacock.

Also Friday, Ethiopian Lamecha Girma broke the men’s 3000m steeplechase world record by 1.52 seconds, running 7:52.11. Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen set the previous record in 2004. Girma is the Olympic and world silver medalist.

Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway ran the fastest two-mile race in history, clocking 7:54.10. Kenyan Daniel Komen previously had the fastest time of 7:58.61 from 1997 in an event that’s not on the Olympic program and is rarely contested at top meets. Ingebrigtsen, 22, is sixth-fastest in history in the mile and eighth-fastest in the 1500m.

Olympic and world silver medalist Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic won the 400m in 49.12 seconds, chasing down Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who ran her first serious flat 400m in four years. McLaughlin-Levrone clocked a personal best 49.71 seconds, a time that would have earned bronze at last year’s world championships.

McLaughlin-Levrone is expected to race the flat 400m at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where the top three are in line to make the world team in the individual 400m. She also has a bye into August’s worlds in the 400m hurdles and is expected to announce after USATF Outdoors which race she will contest at worlds.

Noah Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 100m in 9.97 seconds into a headwind. Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy was seventh in 10.21 in his first 100m since August after struggling through health issues since the Tokyo Games.

Lyles wants to race both the 100m and the 200m at August’s worlds. He has a bye into the 200m. The top three at USATF Outdoors join reigning world champion Fred Kerley on the world championships team. Lyles is the fifth-fastest American in the 100m this year, not counting Kerley, who is undefeated in three meets at 100m in 2023.

Olympic and world silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson won the 800m in 1:55.77, a British record. American Athing Mu, the Olympic and world champion with a personal best of 1:55.04, is expected to make her season debut later this month.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 12.98 seconds, becoming the first man to break 13 seconds this year. Holloway has the world’s four best times in 2023.

American Valarie Allman won the discus over Czech Sandra Perkovic in a meeting of the last two Olympic champions. Allman threw 69.04 meters and has the world’s 12 best throws this year.

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Novak Djokovic tops cramped Carlos Alcaraz, into French Open final with records at stake

2023 French Open - Day Thirteen

Novak Djokovic is headed to a French Open final with all sorts of history at stake after eliminating a cramping Carlos Alcaraz in a showdown semifinal.

Djokovic, a 22-time major champion, took out the top seed Alcaraz 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, but the match was even when Alcaraz began showing signs of right leg cramping. The 20-year-old Spaniard attributed it to the “tension” of the match, saying he was nervous for his first time facing Djokovic at a major.

“I have never felt something like I did today,” he said, adding that it was full-body cramps. “If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies.”

Alcaraz stopped play at 1-all in the third set and had trouble walking. He forfeited the next game, stipulated by the rules for receiving medical treatment for severe muscle cramping when not at a change of ends or end of a set.

Djokovic then won the next nine games. Alcaraz played with limited mobility and without the charismatic magic that’s charmed the tennis world.

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“First and foremost, I have to say tough luck for Carlos. I feel for him. I feel sorry,” Djokovic said to begin an on-court interview. “I told him at the net he knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him, so he’s going to win this tournament, I’m sure, many, many times.”

Djokovic was told of Alcaraz’s reasoning for the cramps.

“I have experienced that several times,” he said. “Early in my career I was struggling quite a bit physically. I can understand the emotions and circumstances that affect you mentally and emotionally.”

The semi was billed as perhaps the greatest inter-generational match in men’s tennis history, the first time that Alcaraz played a member of the Big Three at a major.

Their 16-year age gap was the largest to take place for men this deep in a major since the 1991 U.S. Open (Jim Courier d. Jimmy Connors) and the largest age gap for any major match between Slam champs since 2006 Wimbledon (Rafael Nadal d. Andre Agassi).

Unlike Friday, most of the previous torch-passing meetings took place when one man was not yet at his peak or the other was past his prime.

Typically, the younger player wins these types of duels. Djokovic, by prevailing over a foe 16 years younger this late in a major, broke the Open Era men’s age gap record of 14-plus years set by Roger Federer, who beat Hyeon Chung at the 2018 Australian Open.

Now, Djokovic heads to Sunday’s final as an overwhelming favorite against Norwegian Casper Ruud, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 winner over German Alexander Zverev in the later semifinal. Ruud was runner-up to Nadal at last year’s French Open and runner-up to Alcaraz at last year’s U.S. Open.

Djokovic can break his tie with Nadal for the most men’s major titles. He can become the first man to win all four majors at least three times. He can break Nadal’s record as the oldest French Open singles champion.

“I’ve been very fortunate that most of the matches in tournaments I’ve played in the last few years, there is history on the line,” he said. “The motivation is very high, as you can imagine.”

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