After 10 Olympic medals, Allison Schmitt’s focus is on school and teaching

Allison Schmitt

Allison Schmitt, a 10-time Olympic medalist, knew since college that she wanted to teach upon transitioning from full-time swimming. Maybe have a kindergarten, first grade or second grade classroom with 20 to 30 kids.

Schmitt, a 32-year-old whose last race was at her fourth Olympics in Tokyo, had left hip surgery in September. She will have right hip surgery in December. She hasn’t officially retired, but she doesn’t have any upcoming competition plans.

Instead, she will get her master’s degree in social work at Arizona State next spring.

Schmitt had not imagined she would become this kind of teacher, using a platform earned through all those laps in the pool to share her mental health journey with the goal to help others.

She was a panelist this week at “Mental Wellness and The Student-Athlete,” an event through the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s youth sport outreach program, TrueSport.

Seven years ago, Schmitt began sharing her struggles, specifically depression, that dated to 2011. She was motivated to speak publicly after her cousin April Bocian died by suicide in May 2015 at age 17. Bocian was a promising basketball player, and Schmitt related to her.

“I knew her story wasn’t over,” Schmitt said Wednesday. “And even though she wasn’t on Earth to share her story, that I can share that story. And I could use my experience as well to share my story so that people don’t feel alone.”

Schmitt texted her agent at the funeral that she wanted to get involved in the mental health space. Leading up to the 2016 Rio Games, she shared her experiences across media.

“I avoided every public speaking class [in school] to the point where I’d be like sweaty hands and breathing into a paper bag, like did not want to speak in front of people,” she said. “Now I’m so comfortable with it because I’m so passionate about mental health and sharing that story that it comes a lot easier to me, and I actually really enjoy it.”

Schmitt joked that whether she will swim competitively again is “the question of the century right now.”

Her 2012 Olympic 200m freestyle victory was epic — an American record time that still stands, fending off Katie Ledecky‘s best efforts over the last decade. She came back from not qualifying for the world championships in 2013 and 2015 to win two Olympic relay medals in 2016. In 2018, she came out of a two-year quasi-retirement and later made the Tokyo Olympic team, winning another pair of relay medals.

“I don’t have plans on competing, but right now I’m finishing school,” she said. “I’m passionate about that.

“I still want to be a teacher, but I feel like my sense of teacher is broader now. Yes, I can still go teach a room of 25 kids and impact their lives, but I feel like, now, my calling is more of a teacher in the mental health field.”

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Taylor Fritz becomes crowd enemy at French Open

Taylor Fritz French Open

The French Open crowd was not happy with American player Taylor Fritz after he beat one of their own — indeed, their last man in the bracket — so they booed and whistle relentlessly. Fritz’s response? He told them to shush. Over and over again.

Fritz, a 25-year-old from California who is seeded No. 9 at Roland Garros, got into a back-and-forth with the fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen after his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over 78th-ranked Arthur Rinderknech in the second round on Thursday night.

Rinderknech attempted a lob that landed long on the last point, and Fritz, who had been running toward the baseline to chase the ball, immediately looked up into the stands and pressed his right index finger to his lips to say, essentially, “Hush!”

He held that pose for a bit as he headed back toward the net for a postmatch handshake, then spread his arms wide, wind-milled them a bit as if to egg on the rowdiness, and yelled: “Come on! I want to hear it!”

During the customary winner’s on-court interview that followed, more jeers rained down on Fritz, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli kept pausing her attempts to ask a question into her microphone.

So Fritz again said, “Shhhhh!” and put his finger toward his mouth, while Bartoli unsuccessfully tried to get the spectators to lower their decibel level.

More boos. More whistles.

And the awkwardness continued as both Bartoli and a stadium announcer kept saying, “S’il vous plaît” — “Please!” — to no avail, while Fritz stood there with his arms crossed.

A few U.S. supporters with signs and flags drew Fritz’s attention from the front row, and he looked over and said to them, “I love you guys.”

But the interview was still on hold.

Bartoli tried asking a question in English, which only served to draw more boos.

So Fritz told her he couldn’t hear her. Bartoli moved closer and finally got out a query — but it didn’t seem to matter what her words were.

Fritz, who has been featured on the Netflix docuseries about tennis called “Break Point,” had his hands on his hips and a message on his mind — one reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev’s contretemps with fans at the 2019 U.S. Open.

“I came out and the crowd was so great honestly. Like, the crowd was just so great,” Fritz said, as folks tried to drown out his voice. “They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure that I won. Thanks, guys.”

And with that, he exited the stage.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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French Open: Coco Gauff to face younger opponent for first time at a Grand Slam

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff‘s first 49 Grand Slam main draw singles matches were all against older opponents. Her 50th will be against a younger one.

The sixth-seeded Gauff reached the French Open third round by beating 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. Gauff, 19, next plays 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the round of 32 on Saturday.

“I don’t see age as a factor,” said Gauff, who has practiced with Andreeva. “When you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff made her major debut at age 15 in 2019 by beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon. In her 15 majors, Gauff has usually been the youngest male or female singles player, including most recently at 2022 Wimbledon. She is still the lone teenager in the WTA top 49.

But that may soon change. Youngsters from the Czech Republic and Russia are on the rise. Such as Andreeva, who, at No. 143 in the world and climbing, is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18. And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches, fewest of any woman.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

But Gauff is still in a class of her own among her generation, having at last year’s French Open become the youngest major finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17. She somehow flew somewhat under the radar into Paris this year with a 4-4 record this spring and in between full-time coaches.

She has now won back-to-back matches for the first time since March, rallying past 71st-ranked Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in the first round and then dispatching an error-prone Grabher, a runner-up at a low-level clay event last week.

The other three seeds in Gauff’s section have all lost, so she would not play a seed until the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has won all 12 sets they’ve played, including in last year’s French Open final.

“I lost that final, and like for like a week or two, I really thought it was the worst thing ever,” Gauff said. “There’s no point in me revisiting last year. It’s in the past. It was a great tournament, but I’m looking forward for more this week.”

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

The top four seeds — Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan — all reached the third round without dropping a set.

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