Katie Ledecky performs Beatles song at Golden Goggle Awards

1 Comment

In a skit called “Swimmers’ Got Talent,” Katie Ledecky and Elizabeth Beisel showed that their skills are not confined to the pool.

Ledecky, the five-time Olympic champion, and Beisel, the retired three-time Olympian, performed a duet at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggle Awards in New York City on Monday night.

In a reprisal of their pre-Rio Olympic team camp exercise, Ledecky played The Beatles’ “Let It Be” on the piano, plus sang. Beisel accompanied on the violin.

“I was probably a little pitchy, I’m sorry about that,” Ledecky said after the song and before she won a sixth straight Female Swimmer of the Year award.

Beisel, who has played the violin since age 3, said it was “more nerve-racking than the Olympics” to play in front of several hundred people from the swim community at a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom.

“I took piano lessons as a child, but I have not been able to keep up with it and I am not as proficient as I would like,” Ledecky said before the Rio Games.

Ledecky has played the piano since age 8 or 9, but she phased out of lessons in the eighth grade to prioritize swimming, according to The New York Times.

Even so, as of spring 2016, she could “bang out a respectable version of ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Viva la Vida’ on the baby grand piano in the living room,” according to Sports Illustrated.

Golden Goggles Award Winners
Female Swimmer of the Year: Katie Ledecky
Male Swimmer of the Year: Ryan Murphy
Female Race of the Year: Kathleen Baker, 100m Backstroke world record, U.S. Championships
Male Race of the Year: Ryan Murphy, 100m Backstroke, Pan Pacific Championships
Relay of the Year: Pan Pacific Championships Men’s Medley
Breakout Swimmer of the Year: Michael Andrew
Perseverance Award: Micah Sumrall
Coach of the Year: Greg Meehan

MORE: Ledecky preps for new Olympic challenges in new suit

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Elizabeth Beisel, after DQ, makes one more world team before retirement

Leave a comment

Elizabeth Beisel swam at her first world championships in 2007 at age 14. She’s expected to make this year’s world championships her last at age 24.

The three-time Olympian made her sixth straight world team by finishing second in the 400m individual medley at the USA Swimming Nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast.

Beisel actually touched the wall third, 4.69 seconds behind winner Leah Smith. She was upgraded to second — and the final world team berth — after runner-up Ella Eastin was disqualified for an illegal turn.

“Since [Beisel] was about 12 or 13, she’s been the top of USA Swimming,” Smith said on Universal HD. “I’m sad that this is her last year of swimming.”

Beisel did not dive into retirement talk Thursday but said she’s “nearing the end” and that her Speedo contract is up in December.

SWIM NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Event Schedule/Results

Beisel, who made the team on just two months of training after a post-Rio break, regretted qualifying via DQ and said she urged Eastin to appeal.

“It’s weird for me to say that I am going to Budapest … the circumstances couldn’t be worse,” Beisel said on USA Swimming’s Deck Pass Live. “After the race [but before the DQ], I was looking at Leah, I was looking at Ella, and I was like, you guys are the future. I’m handing you the 400m IM baton.”

Beisel learned of the DQ first by looking at the scoreboard. Still in the pool, she told Eastin, a rising Stanford junior who had thought she made her first world team.

“You just see how elated she is,” Beisel said, “and you go from cloud nine to rock bottom in three seconds.”

Eastin’s last shot to make the world team comes in the 200m individual medley Saturday. She is ranked third in the U.S. this year in the event.

In other races Thursday, Olympians Kelsi Worrell and Caeleb Dressel won the 100m butterflies. Olympic silver medalist Chase Kalisz took the men’s 400m IM in 4:06.99, the fastest time in the world this year.

Kalisz is going to his third straight worlds, while Beisel is the only American swimmer to qualify for every major international meet since 2006.

She essentially took nine months off from competition after the Rio Olympics, traveling the world with eight-time Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt, who is believed to be retired.

“Now, at my age, I know what I can mentally and physically handle, and I’m not going to overdo it,” Beisel said on Deck Pass on Tuesday. “I know I’m not going to make the team in certain events, so I’m putting all my eggs in one basket this week [the 400m IM] with hopes that it works out. I’m what they call a one-hit wonder these days.”

Beisel was the youngest member of the U.S. team at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships (qualifying as a 13-year-old), 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics.

She earned her first world medal in 2009, then the world 400m IM title in 2011.

Both of her Olympic medals came in London, where she led the 400m IM by .81 of a second after 300 meters. But then Chinese 16-year-old Ye Shiwen went 1.77 seconds faster than Beisel on the first 50 meters of freestyle and ended up beating the American by 2.84 seconds, taking 1.02 off the world record.

Plenty of scrutiny was placed on Ye, the 2011 World 200m IM champion who chopped more than five seconds off her 400m IM personal best in London. But Beisel was not outwardly skeptical of Ye, who since London has not swum within two seconds of her since-broken world record.

“She had the race of her life,” Beisel said minutes after the London 400m IM. “Congratulations to her a million times over. It’s definitely hard getting second, but I can’t complain at all.“

Beisel later took bronze in the London 200m backstroke, sharing the podium with Missy Franklin.

In 2016, Beisel made the Olympic team by finishing second in the 400m IM at trials and then placed sixth in Rio.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Franklin: ‘What if I’m never as good as I was?’

Swimmer Dara Torres ready for boxing debut

Dara Torres
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dara Torres thought her first boxing match would be fun.

Women don’t hit too hard, she believed, and boxing gloves are soft.

That mindset quickly changed after a punch from her sparring partner.

“I got hit so hard on the side of my mouth that I couldn’t close my jaw for three or four days,” Torres said in a recent telephone interview.

Torres, 49, is scheduled to make her boxing debut in an event for Haymakers for Hope billed as “Belles of the Brawl” on Wednesday in Boston. She has raised more than $18,000 of her $20,000 goal to fight cancer after losing her father, Edward, to colon cancer (donate here).

The 12-time Olympic swimming medalist discovered boxing as a way to get back into shape after knee surgery. Despite being someone who regularly attends 50-minute spin classes and swims for up to 90 minutes, Torres could barely finish two-minute rounds of sparring.

“Two-minute rounds are distance events for me,” said Torres, who completed all of her individual Olympic swimming finals in less than one minute. “I have to pace myself and not go too fast, too hard, too quickly or I’ll be exhausted.”

Torres solicited advice from Laila Ali, a fellow host on the talk show “We Need to Talk.” Ali, a former professional boxer and the daughter of Muhammad Ali, encouraged Torres to take advantage of her reach. Torres is about an inch taller than her opponent, Sue Bator, a chemical engineer.

“It won’t be easy to hit me because my arms are so long,” Torres said.

Torres is hoping that she will be fast enough to dance around the ring, since her knee issues will prevent her from ducking to avoid punches. But her trainer, Jessica Smith, keeps reminding her that she needs to land punches to score points.

“I’m not super aggressive,” Torres said. “But if [my opponent] does something to upset me, I think it will spark something in me to want to fight her.”

One of Torres’ biggest challenges has been to put on enough weight to reach 150 pounds. She has been drinking protein shakes and eating steaks, hamburgers and fries, but as of Monday afternoon, she weighed 149.2 pounds.

“I am still going to need to really chow down to make weight,” she said.

Torres expects to have 30-40 friends in attendance at the fight, including two-time Olympic swimming medalist Elizabeth Beisel. Torres compared her nerves to the feeling before swimming in an Olympic final.

“I think I’m going to be sick to my stomach,” she said. “I’m not in my element. My element is in the pool.”

Torres is confident that Wednesday’s fight will be her first and last boxing match. But she is proud that she has scarified so much to raise funds to defeat cancer.

“[Boxing] is something I don’t particularly like and it’s a hard, hard sport,” Torres said. “But it’s something that can bring more awareness and raise money to help fight this fight against cancer.”

View this post on Instagram

Workout #2 today….

A post shared by Dara Torres (@swimdara) on