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

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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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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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