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Pro swim league to debut in U.S., Europe

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LOS ANGELES — A new professional league for elite swimmers will debut this year with U.S. and foreign-based teams competing in a mixed gender format with athletes being paid.

Five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky will compete for one of the International Swimming League’s eight teams – four based in the U.S. and four in Europe.

The league said Tuesday that the season will begin Oct. 4-5, with meets held nearly every weekend through Nov. 24. The top four teams will compete in the finals in Las Vegas on Dec. 20-21.

The U.S. will be represented by: the New York Breakers, the Los Angeles Current, the DC Trident, and the Cali Condors based in San Francisco.

The European teams will be based in London, Rome, Budapest and likely France.

US edges Canada 3-2 in women’s hockey worlds in Finland

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ESPOO, Finland (AP) Annie Pankowski scored the winning goal on a second-period power play Saturday, leading the United States to a 3-2 victory over Canada at the women’s world hockey championships.

Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield also scored for the Americans while goalie made Alex Rigsby made 31 saves. Pankowksi put a slap shot over Maschmeyer’s right shoulder at 14:03 of the second period for a power-play goal.

“We always want to come and kind of take the game to them and play our game,” Pankowski said. “They also make it hard because they have so much skill and so much speed.”

Canada had a power play with 2 + minutes to play, but it was negated by Natalie Spooner’s hooking penalty with a minute remaining.

The U.S. has six points and is alone in first in Group A. Canada dropped into a tie with Finland and Russia, all with three points apiece. Switzerland is winless in two games.

Brianne Jenner had goal and an assist in her 100th career game for Canada. Sarah Nurse also scored and Brigette Lacquette assisted on two goals. Goalie Emerance Maschmeyer turned away 27 shots.

The Canadians scored both goals on power plays but went 2-for-7 overall. The U.S. was 1-for-6.

“I think special teams wins hockey games,” Nurse said. “And I think on our power play specifically, we had a lot of good chances and we did capitalize on it. We’d like to capitalize on a couple more.”

In other games, Finland blanked Russia 4-0; the Czech Republic topped Sweden 5-3; and Germany edged Japan 3-2. The Czechs moved into first in Group B with six points

All Group A countries and the top three Group B countries will play quarterfinals April 11. The semifinals are April 13 followed by medal games April 14.

With another gold, Krikorian keeps U.S. water polo team on top

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On Adam Krikorian’s first trip as coach of the U.S. women’s water polo team, he lost his players at the airport. Brenda Villa, Heather Petri and company disappeared right after they checked in.

Krikorian was looking around when he figured out what happened. His players had retreated to the lounges reserved for more experienced travelers.

“A couple of them came out and it was like, I felt like a rookie,” Krikorian said. “I felt like I was at spring training as a baseball player as a rookie trying to just learn the little subtleties of being part of the team. So those little things are I think the things that I remember most.”

Krikorian learned his way around pretty quickly. A few weeks later, he coached the U.S. to the 2009 world title.

In some ways, the world is still trying to catch up.

Four days after his 10th anniversary as national team coach, Krikorian guided the U.S. to gold at the FINA Intercontinental Tournament for the second straight year. Playing without Maggie Steffens after the captain got hurt in the semifinals, the U.S. got two goals apiece from Stefania Haralabidis, Kiley Neushul and Kaleigh Gilchrist in a dramatic 14-12 shootout victory over rival Australia in Perth on Sunday.

Steffens, the MVP of the past two Olympics, was held out after Krikorian said she was “on the wrong end of a cheap shot” in Saturday’s 14-7 victory over Canada – something he said has been happening more and more as the U.S. piles up international titles.

“I think people look at it as an opportunity to try to intimidate or do anything they can to kind of get us off our game and obviously that hasn’t happened,” he said Monday in a phone interview.

“I mean we’re looking at probably somewhere upward of 10, 11, 12 just direct shots out of the water to our kids.”

Krikorian, 44, played at UCLA and coached the men’s and women’s teams for the Bruins before taking over the U.S. women’s program.

With Krikorian on the pool deck, the U.S. has enjoyed an unprecedented run on top of the sport. It became the first country to win two straight Olympics titles when it rolled over the field in Rio in 2016.

It currently holds every major women’s water polo championship and will be a heavy favorite to win a third straight world title in South Korea in July.

Krikorian has come a long way since that first trip.

“I think I’m calmer, No. 1, and I think that’s largely because of the perspective I have,” he said. “I don’t think my competitiveness has died down, but I realize this is not the end all to life.

“I think maybe when I first began it was, you get so caught up in winning and losing and I’ve become much more process-oriented and I have a better perspective on things.”

Tokyo will be Krikorian’s third Olympics. He said he hasn’t thought about his future beyond that point.

While he wants to make sure he is continually challenged, Krikorian also is appreciative of his current position.

“There is just nothing like being part of a team in sports,” he said. “There’s just nothing like it. There’s the passion, the energy, the camaraderie, the connection and the relationships that you build. I have a hard time imagining that there’s any profession in the world that is going to be as satisfying as what I do.”