Alex Walsh Sneaks Under 17-18 NAG Record With 1:54.02 200 IM

17-year-old Alex Walsh of Nashville Aquatic Club swam a new meet record of 1:54.02 on Thursday night at the Speedo Junior National East Championships in Knoxville. Walsh broke her own meet record she set last year at 1:54.48 as she also snuck under the national age group record for the 17-18 age group that was a 1:54.03 held by Dagny Knutson from December 2008.

 Event 7  Women 200 Yard IM
=========================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 1:54.48  12/08/16  Alexandra Walsh, Nashville A.C.
    Name            Age Team              Prelims     Finals HyPts Points
=========================================================================
                            === A - Final ===                            
 
  1 Alexandra Walsh  16 Nashville Aquati  1:56.08    1:54.02J 1027   20  
             25.52        53.97 (28.45)
        1:27.58 (33.61)     1:54.02 (26.44)
  2 Olivia Carter    17 Enfinity Aquatic  1:57.91    1:56.83   965   17  
             24.48        53.06 (28.58)
        1:28.81 (35.75)     1:56.83 (28.02)
  3 Kelly Pash       16 Carmel Swim Club  1:58.81    1:58.02   939   16  
             25.27        54.52 (29.25)
        1:29.83 (35.31)     1:58.02 (28.19)
  4 Katherine Dougl  16 Chelsea Piers Aq  1:58.32    1:58.12   937   15  
             25.08        55.19 (30.11)
        1:29.97 (34.78)     1:58.12 (28.15)
  5 Ella Nelson      16 Nashville Aquati  1:59.39    1:59.39   910   14  
             26.37        56.70 (30.33)
        1:30.89 (34.19)     1:59.39 (28.50)
  6 Allison Raab     17 Nashville Aquati  1:59.34    1:59.58   906   13  
             26.76        57.52 (30.76)
        1:31.74 (34.22)     1:59.58 (27.84)
  7 Hannah Foster    18 Mason Manta Rays  1:59.63    1:59.99   897   12  
             26.27        56.56 (30.29)
        1:31.69 (35.13)     1:59.99 (28.30)
 -- Kathleen Goldin  17 South Florida Aq  1:59.93         DQ

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2017 NCAA Men’s Water Polo Championship: Leaving Los Angeles

USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center bathed in Bruin blue. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

BROOKLYN—Because the whole of metro LA seems to be sustained by the motion picture industry, I wasn’t surprised that the cab I caught after the 2017 NCAA water polo title match was driven by an actor. Joe Spellman is a Hofstra University grad who got into comedy at Manhattan’s Upright Citizens Brigade, where he met his wife (also a comedienne). Joe was very upright in getting me to the airport, and downright upbeat about making it in LA. Of course, he was driving an Uber car to supplement his acting gigs.

celebrate-NCAA-DEC17

Joy, water polo-style. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

Upon reflection, after a weekend at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center covering what is the country’s most prestigious polo tournament, I believe the sport’s future in this country is at least as bright as Joe Spellman’s career prospects. Based on the optics of this year’s championship, the sport is as healthy and vibrant as it’s been in the five years I’ve covered it. In fact, my first-ever NCAA tournament in 2012 was also at Uytengsu, so I can gauge the success of this year’s tournament compared to when I last attended (concluding also, as it happens, in a match between rivals Southern Cal and UCLA, though that time the Trojans won).

It may be obvious to anyone from California, but the facility at USC is fantastic; the 2014 renovations make it one of the premier aquatics facilities in the country. USC’s investment in water sports is impressive, and the success of its men’s and women’s programs is an indication of just how appealing water polo in America can be.

trojans-NCAA-DEC17

Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

The atmosphere there this weekend made the spectacle entirely compelling. After attending the 2017 NCAA Women’s Tournament at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis—which, despite some fantastic matches, was an entirely sterile environment—it’s become clear to me that loud, committed polo fans must be part of the mix. When Cal played USC on Saturday night, which was the best match of the tournament, Cal and USC fans alike were hilarious in their pointed heckling. My favorite: “Who’s got the Cutino now?!” whenever 2017 MPSF Player of the Year Luca Cupido—who’s the favorite for this year’s Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation’s best player—or McQuin Baron, the 2016 winner, touched the ball.

bruins-NCAA-DEC17

Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

Unwittingly, Cupido was pivotal in both the Golden Bears’ semifinal loss to USC and the Trojan’s finals loss to UCLA. In the third period of Saturday night’s game, he was the unlucky recipient of a punch from USC’s Lachlan Edwards, which occasioned the bizarre spectacle of Trojan Head Coach Jovan Vavic strolling around the pool deck to speak with Bob Corb, NCAA Coordinator of Officials. In what other NCAA sport can a coach hold up a tournament semifinal for five minutes to leisurely protest a call?

Edwards’ ejection from the Cal game carried a heavy price for him and his team: exclusion from his final match as a senior, which just happened to be for the national championship. In comments after Sunday’s final, Vavic pointed to Edwards’ absence as one of the prime reasons his team lost.

edwards-NCAA-DEC17

Lachlan Edwards. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

As I understand it, coaches typically don’t put the success, or failure, of their team on a single player, so Vavic was clearly taking issue with the previous game’s call on his All-American center. Having that call overturned, Vavic’s stated reason for Saturday night’s protest stroll, was paramount—he recognized the consequences of his player’s action. But it begs the question: how does a senior leader on a team driving for a championship lose his composure at such a critical moment.

But, hey, I’ve already written about that elsewhere. What I REALLY appreciate about LA—other than, as Woody Allen memorably reminded us in Annie Hall, right turns on red—are the donut shops. My visit in 2012 had been memorable because I discovered Spudnut Donuts (3001 South Figueroa Street), a fantastic shop next to the USC campus. As someone who knows his way around a donut, I can attest that these babies are momentous.

spudnut-DEC17

Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

I had an amazing apple fritter that was bigger than my hand, which, while savoring, I spoke with Diego, who’s only been manning the register at Spudnuts the last six months—my interviewing habit is pretty ingrained. Diego couldn’t explain what it is about great donuts and LA. He’s working two jobs and is happy to be there, but is more drawn to the money than the donuts. Let’s hope he learns to appreciate Spudnut the way I do.

sams-altar-DEC17

Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

But my 2017 Eureka moment came at Sam’s Donuts, (4325 South Vermont Street), a no-frills hang-out that opens at 5:00 a.m. and doesn’t close until 10 (at night). Norman Nop is the owner, and his creations are good, hearty fare; the buttermilk donut was simple, delicious and—at 90¢—ridiculously cheap by New York standards, where $4 dollars per donut is the norm. Appropriately, this was the very donut he chose to leave as an offering in the morning at a small shrine in the baking area.

If cheap but good eats are the sustenance of any deadline-driven endeavor, space is another necessity. Life as an itinerant journalist often requires working under duress in someone else’s comfort zone, so finding the ideal combination of space, Wi-Fi and provisions is hit and miss.

annenberg-DEC17

Annenberg Center. Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

I struck it rich at Southern Cal,where I found an excellent locale to work: the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Not only did they have a GREAT little café (no donut reviews at this location, though they had them), there was ample space to spread out. And it’s accessible to non-students!

Much as I was honored to be part of covering NCAAs, it was impressive to be in the hub of this great journalism school and doing my small part to contribute to the vast information flow that, along with quality donuts, makes our country truly great.

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2017 Speedo Juniors East: Thursday Finals Live Recap

There will be eight total events on Thursday night at the Speedo Junior Nationals East in Knoxville. The 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and the 400 medley relay will be contested at the University of Tennessee as some of the best 18 and under swimmers in the nation will be in action at the meet.

Heat Sheets

Tonight’s events:

  • 500 Free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Free
  • 400 Medley Relay

Women’s 500 Free

Men’s 500 Free

Women’s 200 IM

Men’s 200 IM

Women’s 50 Free

Men’s 50 Free

Women’s 400 Medley Relay

Men’s 400 Medley Relay

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3 Warm-Up Hacks To Skyrocket Your Strength

The “why” of warming up is well established in research and in the trenches. It helps to turn on the muscles you’re about to use and reduces the chance of injury. But if you’re using your warm-ups solely to “get loose,” you’re probably wasting valuable minutes and missing out on the potential for surprisingly huge gains.

Depending on your level of training, these warm-up tricks can help maximize gym time and improve overall strength and performance.

Overshoot Your Working Set

A classic strength-building hack is to ramp up your low-rep sets beyond your working weight. When you come back down to your working weight, it’ll feel like a feather!

Example: Let’s say you’re building up to 3 working sets of 5 reps in the bench press, a classic strength-and-size protocol I talk about in my article “A Better Way To Deload.

  • Do a few low-weight ramp-up sets.
  • Now, do singles at 90-95 percent of your max. Don’t shoot for a PR here—this is a warm-up, so you don’t want to kill yourself doing it. Just shoot to trick your nervous system into thinking your working weight is super heavy, when in fact it’s not.
  • Drop down to your actual working weight, which now feels like nothing!

Add Accommodating Resistance to Your Warm-ups

Bands and chains can be added to a variety of barbell and machine exercises. They are a common resistance accessory for heavy lifters, who often use them on a specific, power-focused lifting day. But, anyone can use this hack to play with the nervous system during warm-ups!

Example: For squat gains, add bands to each end of the barbell, locked at the bottom of the cage with band pegs or looped into a knot. Here's how this works:

Example: For squat gains, add bands to each end of the barbell, locked at the bottom of the cage with band pegs or looped into a knot. Here’s how this works:

  • Make sure the integrity of your band is solid, then attach it to the bottom of the cage, either through built-in pegs or by looping the band into a knot around the bottom of the rack.
  • Once your weights are stacked, attach the top of each band to each end of the barbell.
  • Perform your warm-up sets. As you lower into the squat, the band tension will assist you; as you power upward, the band tension will resist you. Essentially, you’ve now reversed your body’s expected resistance, causing the squat to feel easier going down and tougher going up.
  • Remove the bands to squat at your regular working weight, which should now feel easier and more controlled!

Use A Thick Grip for Warm-ups

Hands and forearms have more to do with your pressing strength than you realize. If you want to trick your body and lift even more weight, do your warm-up sets with an oversized grip accessory, like Fat Gripz. You’ll see huge gains in your pressing power once the grips are removed.

Fat Gripz

Example: Beforebenching, add Fat Gripz or other grip wideners to the barbell for your warm-up sets. Here’s what happens next:

  • With Fat Gripz, do your bench warm-up as usual, or even using one of the additional hacks mentioned in this article. You can start with an empty bar, working through every warm-up set. You can even do this at your working weight, if you choose.
  • After the barbell contacts the body, “squeezing the bar hard” as you extend upward—the classic bench-press assist—will be that much harder. The muscles in your hands and forearms will be forced to activate at greater intensity that usual.
  • Remove the Fat Gripz for your working weight. Your hands and forearms, already activated to peak performance, will have a much easier time, and the bar will feel easier to lift!
  • Even using Fat Gripz at your working weight is hugely beneficial to increasing grip strength for other exercises, as well as increasing forearm strength and size.

Note: For more tips like this, check out my book The Warm-Up: Modern Methods for Strength Training.

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Lucie Nordmann Among Top Seeds at Day 2 Prelims of Speedo Juniors West

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

It was a quick morning in Iowa City as the athletes competed in the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free for day two prelims of the 2017 Speedo Junior Championships West.

Kaitlynn Sims of Magnolia Aquatics clocked the top seed time in the women’s 500 free, turning in a time of 4:44.75. Qualifying second overall was Issaquah’s Sarah Dimeco with a time of 4:46.18. Rounding out the top three qualifiers was Hayley Pike of Razorback Aquatics and her time of 4:46.29.

 Event 5  Women 500 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
     Jrs West: * 4:37.82  12/10/2015Hannah Cox, Upper Valley Aqu
  SC Jrs Meet: # 4:37.82  12/9/2015 Hannah Cox, Upper Valley A.C
         Pool: ! 4:38.00  2/16/2012 Ashley Steenvoorden, Minnesota
    13-14 NAG: A 4:35.14  2016      Katie Ledecky
    15-16 NAG: B 4:28.71  2014      Katie Ledecky
    17-18 NAG: C 4:26.58  2015      Katie Ledecky
    Name                  Age Team                 Seed    Prelims        
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Sims, Kaitlynn         17 Magnolia Aquatic             4:44.75  
                 26.46        54.32 (27.86)
        1:22.60 (28.28)     1:51.08 (28.48)
        2:19.93 (28.85)     2:48.87 (28.94)
        3:18.05 (29.18)     3:47.30 (29.25)
        4:16.54 (29.24)     4:44.75 (28.21)
  2 Dimeco, Sarah          16 Issaquah Swim Te             4:46.18  
                 26.66        55.29 (28.63)
        1:24.07 (28.78)     1:53.13 (29.06)
        2:22.21 (29.08)     2:51.17 (28.96)
        3:20.03 (28.86)     3:49.14 (29.11)
        4:18.19 (29.05)     4:46.18 (27.99)
  3 Pike, Hayley           15 Razorback Aquati             4:46.29  
                 26.60        55.35 (28.75)
        1:24.52 (29.17)     1:53.56 (29.04)
        2:22.86 (29.30)     2:52.20 (29.34)
        3:21.03 (28.83)     3:50.30 (29.27)
        4:19.18 (28.88)     4:46.29 (27.11)
  4 Gawronska, Zoe         17 Cypress Fairbank             4:46.75  
                 26.64        55.12 (28.48)
        1:23.84 (28.72)     1:52.63 (28.79)
        2:21.48 (28.85)     2:50.51 (29.03)
        3:19.52 (29.01)     3:48.79 (29.27)
        4:18.10 (29.31)     4:46.75 (28.65)
  5 Gumina, Monica         18 Magnolia Aquatic             4:47.79  
                 25.83        54.53 (28.70)
        1:23.61 (29.08)     1:52.92 (29.31)
        2:22.33 (29.41)     2:51.80 (29.47)
        3:21.22 (29.42)     3:50.48 (29.26)
        4:19.57 (29.09)     4:47.79 (28.22)
  6 Luther, Dakota         18 Austin Swim Club             4:48.75  
                 26.18        54.60 (28.42)
        1:23.62 (29.02)     1:52.99 (29.37)
        2:22.49 (29.50)     2:51.82 (29.33)
        3:21.27 (29.45)     3:50.56 (29.29)
        4:20.04 (29.48)     4:48.75 (28.71)
  7 Gordon, Mckenzee       18 Scottsdale Aquat             4:49.21  
                 26.34        55.07 (28.73)
        1:24.05 (28.98)     1:53.20 (29.15)
        2:22.26 (29.06)     2:51.65 (29.39)
        3:21.26 (29.61)     3:50.97 (29.71)
        4:20.62 (29.65)     4:49.21 (28.59)
  8 Strouse, Ashley        15 Scottsdale Aquat             4:49.25  
                 26.40        55.18 (28.78)
        1:24.25 (29.07)     1:53.67 (29.42)
        2:23.02 (29.35)     2:52.38 (29.36)
        3:21.93 (29.55)     3:51.50 (29.57)
        4:21.04 (29.54)     4:49.25 (28.21)

On the men’s side, it was Jack Levant of the North Texas Nadadores claiming the top seed. He stopped the clock at a time of 4:16.52, leading the field by over three seconds. Kevin Callan of Trident Aquatics snagged the second place seed with a time of 4:19.62, while Alexander Zettle took third in prelims with a 4:20.54.

 Event 6  Men 500 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
     Jrs West: * 4:15.53  12/10/2015Sean Grieshop, Nitro Swimming
  SC Jrs Meet: # 4:15.36  12/8/2016 Drew Kibler, Carmel Swim Club
         Pool: ! 4:09.72  3/26/2015 Clark Smith, Texas
    13-14 NAG:   4:24.79  2017      Lleyton Plattel
    15-16 NAG:   4:15.36  2016      Drew Kibler
    17-18 NAG:   4:12.33  2004      Michael Phelps
    Name                  Age Team                 Seed    Prelims        
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Levant, Jack           18 North Texas Nada             4:16.52  
                 23.16        48.70 (25.54)
        1:14.39 (25.69)     1:40.54 (26.15)
        2:06.57 (26.03)     2:32.67 (26.10)
        2:58.41 (25.74)     3:24.62 (26.21)
        3:50.88 (26.26)     4:16.52 (25.64)
  2 Callan, Kevin          18 Trident Aquatics             4:19.62  
                 22.87        48.32 (25.45)
        1:14.20 (25.88)     1:40.59 (26.39)
        2:07.25 (26.66)     2:33.65 (26.40)
        3:00.05 (26.40)     3:26.73 (26.68)
        3:53.57 (26.84)     4:19.62 (26.05)
  3 Zettle, Alexander      18 Lakeside Aquatic             4:20.54  
                 23.43        48.99 (25.56)
        1:14.54 (25.55)     1:40.98 (26.44)
        2:07.51 (26.53)     2:34.16 (26.65)
        3:00.64 (26.48)     3:27.30 (26.66)
        3:54.23 (26.93)     4:20.54 (26.31)
  4 Brinegar, James        18 Mission Viejo Na             4:23.27  
                 23.77        49.90 (26.13)
        1:16.33 (26.43)     1:43.00 (26.67)
        2:09.79 (26.79)     2:36.10 (26.31)
        3:02.98 (26.88)     3:29.83 (26.85)
        3:56.79 (26.96)     4:23.27 (26.48)
  5 Calvillo, Michael      17 Alamo Area Aquat             4:24.58  
                 23.90        49.98 (26.08)
        1:16.54 (26.56)     1:43.34 (26.80)
        2:10.17 (26.83)     2:36.96 (26.79)
        3:04.19 (27.23)     3:31.48 (27.29)
        3:58.45 (26.97)     4:24.58 (26.13)
  6 Furlong, Jacob         17 Chicago Wolfpack             4:24.78  
                 25.08        51.24 (26.16)
        1:17.83 (26.59)     1:44.57 (26.74)
        2:11.31 (26.74)     2:38.23 (26.92)
        3:05.08 (26.85)     3:32.02 (26.94)
        3:58.71 (26.69)     4:24.78 (26.07)
  7 Heasley, Ethan         16 Hillsboro Swim T             4:24.79  
                 23.59        49.47 (25.88)
        1:15.85 (26.38)     1:42.62 (26.77)
        2:09.48 (26.86)     2:36.20 (26.72)
        3:03.34 (27.14)     3:30.42 (27.08)
        3:57.95 (27.53)     4:24.79 (26.84)
  8 Coakley, William       16 Katy Aquatic Tea             4:24.82  
                 24.38        50.25 (25.87)
        1:17.14 (26.89)     1:44.24 (27.10)
        2:11.33 (27.09)     2:38.18 (26.85)
        3:04.73 (26.55)     3:32.06 (27.33)
        3:58.96 (26.90)     4:24.82 (25.86)

Coleen Gillilan of Fort Collins grabbed the first place seed with a time of 1:56.70, putting her within close range of Ella Eastin’s 2013 West record of 1:56.02.

Metroplex’s Vanessa Pearl claimed the second place seed with a 1:57.02, while Fort Collins’ Zoe Bartel took third in prelims with a 1:58.28.

 Event 7  Women 200 Yard IM
==================================================================
     Jrs West: * 1:56.02  12/12/2013Ella Eastin, SOCAL Aquatics A
  SC Jrs Meet: # 1:54.48  12/8/2016 Alexandra Walsh, Nashville A.C.
         Pool: ! 1:55.18  12/6/2013 Emma C Reaney, Notre Dame
    13-14 NAG:   1:56.20  2015      Alex Walsh
    15-16 NAG:   1:54.03  2008      Dagny Knutson
    17-18 NAG:   1:51.65  2016      Ella Eastin
    Name                  Age Team                 Seed    Prelims        
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Gillilan, Coleen       16 Fort Collins Are             1:56.70  
                 25.36        54.85 (29.49)
        1:28.59 (33.74)     1:56.70 (28.11)
  2 Pearl, Vanessa         18 Metroplex Aquati             1:57.02  
                 25.53        55.19 (29.66)
        1:28.88 (33.69)     1:57.02 (28.14)
  3 Bartel, Zoe            17 Fort Collins Are             1:58.28  
                 26.24        55.94 (29.70)
        1:29.22 (33.28)     1:58.28 (29.06)
  4 Hartman, Zoie          16 Crow Canyon-PC               1:58.37  
                 26.07        56.41 (30.34)
        1:29.93 (33.52)     1:58.37 (28.44)
  5 Wheeler, Kaitlynn      17 Springfield YMCA             1:59.43  
                 25.82        55.21 (29.39)
        1:30.82 (35.61)     1:59.43 (28.61)
  6 Shelton, Samantha      17 Una SCAL-CA                  1:59.46  
                 25.43        54.80 (29.37)
        1:31.60 (36.80)     1:59.46 (27.86)
  7 Nordmann, Lillie       15 Magnolia Aquatic             1:59.58  
                 25.41        55.40 (29.99)
        1:31.85 (36.45)     1:59.58 (27.73)
  8 Martin, Ruby           17 Iowa Flyers Swim             1:59.90  
                 25.65        55.37 (29.72)
        1:32.26 (36.89)     1:59.90 (27.64)

The men’s 200 IM prelims saw St. Croix’s Shane Blinkman claiming the top seed with a time of 1:46.88. Lane Four Aquatics’ Caleb Aman turned in a 1:47.32 to earn the second place seed, just ahead of Mulnomah’s Van Mathias 1:47.44.

 Event 8  Men 200 Yard IM
==================================================================
     Jrs West: * 1:42.77  12/10/2015Michael Andrew, Indie Swimming
  SC Jrs Meet: # 1:42.77  12/2015   Michael Andrew, Indie Swimming
         Pool: ! 1:39.38  3/26/2015 David Nolan, Stanford
    13-14 NAG:   1:45.29  2014      Michael Andrew
    15-16 NAG:   1:42.77  2015      Michael Andrew
    17-18 NAG:   1:41.39  2011      David Nolan
    Name                  Age Team                 Seed    Prelims        
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Blinkman, Shane        16 St Croix Swim Cl             1:46.88  
                 23.85        50.88 (27.03)
        1:21.24 (30.36)     1:46.88 (25.64)
  2 Aman, Caleb            17 Lane Four Aquati             1:47.32  
                 23.76        50.70 (26.94)
        1:21.87 (31.17)     1:47.32 (25.45)
  3 Mathias, Van           17 Multnomah Athlet             1:47.44  
                 23.48        51.85 (28.37)
        1:21.85 (30.00)     1:47.44 (25.59)
  4 Urlando, Gianluca      15 Davis Aquadarts-             1:47.67  
                 23.44        49.91 (26.47)
        1:21.24 (31.33)     1:47.67 (26.43)
  5 Roy, Daniel            17 KING Aquatic Clu             1:47.83  
                 23.63        51.97 (28.34)
        1:21.33 (29.36)     1:47.83 (26.50)
  6 Wang, Hsing-hao        18 Mesa Aquatics Cl             1:48.06  
                 23.39        50.66 (27.27)
        1:22.25 (31.59)     1:48.06 (25.81)
  7 Kovac, William         17 Fort Collins Are             1:48.24  
                 23.41        50.60 (27.19)
        1:22.26 (31.66)     1:48.24 (25.98)
  8 Cook, Jonathan         17 West Coast Aquat             1:48.45  
                 23.84        51.77 (27.93)
        1:22.29 (30.52)     1:48.45 (26.16)

Lucie Nordmann of Magnolia Aquatics clocked the top time in the women’s 50 free prelims, topping the competition with a 22.35. Picking up the second place seed was Kylee Alons of Fort Collins with a time of 22.47, while Aggie Swim Club’s Julia Cook turned in a 22.48 for third.

 Event 9  Women 50 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
     Jrs West: * 21.49  12/12/2014Abbigail Weitzeil, Canyons Aquatic
  SC Jrs Meet: # 21.49  12/12/2014Abbigail Weitzeil, Canyons Aquatic
         Pool: ! 22.04  2/16/2012 Rebecca Thompson, Wisconsin
    13-14 NAG:   22.32  2016      Kate Douglass
    15-16 NAG:   22.04  2013      S Manuel / K Douglas
    17-18 NAG:   21.32  2015      Simone Manuel
    Name                  Age Team                 Seed    Prelims        
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Nordmann, Lucie        17 Magnolia Aquatic               22.35  
  2 Alons, Kylee           18 Fort Collins Are               22.47  
  3 Cook, Julia            17 Aggie Swim Club-               22.48  
  4 Crisera, Alexandra     16 Beach Cities Swi               22.56  
  5 Cooper, Grace          15 Delta Aquatics-I               22.65  
  5 Parker, Maxine         15 Una CATS-IL                    22.65  
  7 Carlton, Emma          17 Bellingham Bay S               22.70  
  8 Fackenthal, Amalie     17 Davis Aquadarts-               22.75

Jack Dolan of Rockwood Swim Club dashed to the top seed in the men’s 50 free, posting a top time of 19.74. Daniel Krueger of McFarland Spartans turned in the only other sub-20 second at a time of 19.93.

Palo Alto’s Nathan Yates added a third place seed time of 20.24.

 Event 10  Men 50 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
     Jrs West: * 18.71  12/8/2016 Ryan Hoffer, Scottsdale Aquat
  SC Jrs Meet: # 18.71  12/10/2016Ryan Hoffer, Scottsdale Aq.
         Pool: ! 18.67  3/26/2015 Caeleb Dressel, Florida
    13-14 NAG:   19.76  2014      Michael Andrew
    15-16 NAG:   19.24  2015      Michael Andrew
    17-18 NAG:   18.67  2015      Caeleb Dressel
    Name                  Age Team                 Seed    Prelims        
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Dolan, Jack            16 Rockwood Swim Cl               19.74  
  2 Krueger, Daniel        18 McFarland Sparta               19.93  
  3 Yates, Nathan          17 Palo Alto Stanfo               20.24  
  4 Deryk, Cooper          18 Truckee-Tahoe Sw               20.26  
  5 Kovac, William         17 Fort Collins Are               20.30  
  6 Bratanov, Kaloyan      17 Katy Aquatic Tea               20.32  
  6 Armstrong, Jack        16 Houston Bridge B               20.32  
  8 Bobo, Timothy Clayton  18 Dads Club Swim T               20.33

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Bora-Hansgrohe reveal 2018 kit design

Bora-Hansgrohe held their 2018 team presentation at Hansgrohe headquarters in Germany on Thursday, revealing their team kit design for next season.

Peter Sagan took centre-stage in his rainbow jersey while his 2018 teammates showed off the new black, aquamarine and white colours.

The modern design includes a chevron fade from aquamarine to white on the lower half of the jersey. Shorts are black with an aquamarine edge. The new kit is produced by Sportful.

Bora-Hansgrohe will head to Mallorca next week for a winter training camp. Sagan will again make his 2018 season debut at the Tour Down Under in Australia.

More to come!

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Gretchen Walsh, Kieran Smith Set Themselves Up For Busy Thursday Night at Speedo Juniors East

The first prelims session of the 2017 Speedo Junior Nationals East in Knoxville finished on Thursday morning. No records were broken but it will surely be a fast finals session with many swimmers gaining a chance to take down meet records and national age group records in Knoxville on Thursday night.

Women’s 500 Free

17-year-old Leah Braswell will be the top seed in the 500 for tonight with a 4:44.24 this morning. She is just ahead of Madison Homovich of Marlins of Raleigh, who swam a 4:44.71 this morning. Homovich was a 4:39.74 seed so she could have a big swim in her tonight. If she is on her game, she could challenge the meet record of 4:37.82 held by Hannah Cox, but even that could be a stretch.

Mary Smutny (4:46.92), Lola Mull (4:47.28), Olwyn Bartis (4:47.31), Emma Weyant (4:47.68), Sinclair Larson (4:47.82) and Emily Hetzer (4:47.99) will also swim in the championship final.

14-year-old Mariah Denigan of Northern Kentucky Clippers cracked the top 100 in the 13-14 all-time list with a 4:48.67 for 10th at this meet.

 Event 5  Women 500 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 4:37.82  12/09/15  Hannah Cox, Upper Valley A.C
    Name            Age Team                 Seed    Prelims HyPts       
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Leah Braswell    17 York YMCA-MA      4:43.90    4:44.24  q890  
             27.01        55.66 (28.65)
        1:24.47 (28.81)     1:53.14 (28.67)
        2:21.96 (28.82)     2:50.72 (28.76)
        3:19.40 (28.68)     3:48.33 (28.93)
        4:17.37 (29.04)     4:44.24 (26.87)
  2 Madison Homovic  17 Marlins of Ralei  4:39.74    4:44.71  q885  
             26.38        54.91 (28.53)
        1:23.79 (28.88)     1:52.71 (28.92)
        2:21.63 (28.92)     2:50.37 (28.74)
        3:19.02 (28.65)     3:48.04 (29.02)
        4:16.80 (28.76)     4:44.71 (27.91)
  3 Mary Smutny      17 AquaKids Sharks-  4:46.12    4:46.92  q861  
             26.17        54.50 (28.33)
        1:23.02 (28.52)     1:51.47 (28.45)
        2:19.99 (28.52)     2:48.80 (28.81)
        3:17.85 (29.05)     3:47.61 (29.76)
        4:17.69 (30.08)     4:46.92 (29.23)
  4 Lola Mull        15 Mid-Michigan Aqu  4:44.47    4:47.28  q858  
             26.36        54.99 (28.63)
        1:24.15 (29.16)     1:53.34 (29.19)
        2:22.89 (29.55)     2:51.83 (28.94)
        3:21.20 (29.37)     3:50.55 (29.35)
        4:19.16 (28.61)     4:47.28 (28.12)
  5 Olwyn Bartis     16 SwimMAC Carolina  4:18.40L   4:47.31  q857  
             25.56        53.48 (27.92)
        1:22.01 (28.53)     1:50.83 (28.82)
        2:20.17 (29.34)     2:49.50 (29.33)
        3:19.16 (29.66)     3:48.69 (29.53)
        4:18.37 (29.68)     4:47.31 (28.94)
  6 Emma Weyant      15 Sarasota YMCA Sh  4:48.53    4:47.68  q853  
             26.67        56.00 (29.33)
        1:24.87 (28.87)     1:54.14 (29.27)
        2:23.11 (28.97)     2:52.38 (29.27)
        3:21.27 (28.89)     3:50.04 (28.77)
        4:19.25 (29.21)     4:47.68 (28.43)
  7 Sinclair Larson  17 SwimMAC Carolina  4:20.58L   4:47.82  q852  
             26.12        54.30 (28.18)
        1:22.87 (28.57)     1:52.05 (29.18)
        2:21.09 (29.04)     2:50.34 (29.25)
        3:19.76 (29.42)     3:49.16 (29.40)
        4:18.90 (29.74)     4:47.82 (28.92)
  8 Emily Hetzer     17 Occoquan Swimmin  4:47.23    4:47.99  q850  
             26.16        54.45 (28.29)
        1:23.19 (28.74)     1:52.23 (29.04)
        2:21.43 (29.20)     2:50.93 (29.50)
        3:20.33 (29.40)     3:49.65 (29.32)
        4:19.13 (29.48)     4:47.99 (28.86)
 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Men’s 500 Free

National junior teamers Kieran Smith and Drew Kibler cruised to the top two seeds in the men’s 500 final with Smith leading the way at 4:18.22. Kibler did not take a hard stroke in his 4:18.71 swim this morning as he will have lane five in the A-final. Smith and Kibler will be chasing the latter’s meet record of 4:15.36 set last year.

Bradley Dunham (4:19.07), Trey Freeman (4:19.28), Ross Dant (4:19.29), Cody Bybee (4:20.16), Hayden Curley (4:22.09) and John Dubois (4:22.43) also will swim in the A-final. 16-year-old Dant out of Hickory Foundation in North Carolina tied for 12th all-time in the 15-16 age group with his swim this morning. Dant is now tied on the all-time list with Matias Koski.

Event 6  Men 500 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 4:15.36  12/08/16  Drew Kibler, Carmel Swim Club
    Name            Age Team                 Seed    Prelims HyPts       
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Kieran Smith     17 Ridgefield Aquat  4:22.67    4:18.22  q911  
             23.15        48.82 (25.67)
        1:15.01 (26.19)     1:41.40 (26.39)
        2:07.82 (26.42)     2:34.11 (26.29)
        3:00.46 (26.35)     3:26.83 (26.37)
        3:53.03 (26.20)     4:18.22 (25.19)
  2 Drew Kibler      17 Carmel Swim Club  4:15.36    4:18.71  q906  
             23.12        48.78 (25.66)
        1:15.01 (26.23)     1:41.56 (26.55)
        2:08.26 (26.70)     2:34.61 (26.35)
        3:01.06 (26.45)     3:27.76 (26.70)
        3:54.12 (26.36)     4:18.71 (24.59)
  3 Bradley Dunham   17 SwimAtlanta-GA    4:24.87    4:19.07  q902  
             23.95        49.94 (25.99)
        1:15.85 (25.91)     1:41.86 (26.01)
        2:07.99 (26.13)     2:34.58 (26.59)
        3:01.27 (26.69)     3:27.75 (26.48)
        3:54.04 (26.29)     4:19.07 (25.03)
  4 Trey Freeman     17 Baylor Swim Club  4:16.99    4:19.28  q900  
             23.43        49.29 (25.86)
        1:15.56 (26.27)     1:42.12 (26.56)
        2:08.81 (26.69)     2:35.57 (26.76)
        3:02.41 (26.84)     3:28.89 (26.48)
        3:54.59 (25.70)     4:19.28 (24.69)
  5 Ross Dant        16 Hickory Foundati  4:21.33    4:19.29  q900  
             23.42        49.02 (25.60)
        1:15.26 (26.24)     1:41.65 (26.39)
        2:08.20 (26.55)     2:34.35 (26.15)
        3:00.89 (26.54)     3:27.35 (26.46)
        3:53.83 (26.48)     4:19.29 (25.46)
  6 Cody Bybee       18 Dayton Raiders-O  4:23.53    4:20.16  q891  
             23.71        49.75 (26.04)
        1:15.83 (26.08)     1:42.37 (26.54)
        2:09.09 (26.72)     2:35.84 (26.75)
        3:02.59 (26.75)     3:28.99 (26.40)
        3:54.83 (25.84)     4:20.16 (25.33)
  7 Hayden Curley    18 Highlander Aquat  4:21.92    4:22.09  q871  
             24.06        50.35 (26.29)
        1:17.06 (26.71)     1:43.48 (26.42)
        2:10.30 (26.82)     2:36.66 (26.36)
        3:03.51 (26.85)     3:29.92 (26.41)
        3:56.27 (26.35)     4:22.09 (25.82)
  8 John Dubois      17 SwimAtlanta-GA    4:29.32    4:22.43  q868  
             24.19        50.08 (25.89)
        1:16.35 (26.27)     1:42.99 (26.64)
        2:09.45 (26.46)     2:36.07 (26.62)
        3:03.10 (27.03)     3:29.84 (26.74)
        3:56.36 (26.52)     4:22.43 (26.07)

Women’s 200 IM

16-year-old Alex Walsh cruised to a 1:56.08 for the top seed in the 200 IM tonight. Walsh will be chasing her meet record of 1:54.48 that she set at this meet a year ago. Walsh has gained a lot of experience since swimming that time, like swimming at the World Junior Championships. Walsh sits fourth all-time in the 200 IM in the 15-16 age group rankings. If she is on her game, she has a chance to break Dagny Knutson‘s NAG record of 1:54.03 set at the Winter Nationals in December 2008.

Olivia Carter (1:57.91), Katherine Douglass (1:58.32), Kelly Pash (1:58.81), Allie Raab (1:59.34), Ella Nelson (1:59.39), Hannah Foster (1:59.63) and Kathleen Golding (1:59.93) will also be swimming in the championship final.

Looking down the results, 13-year-old Charlotte Hook from North Carolina swam a 2:01.31 to place 20th. She is now 40th all-time in the 13-14 all-time rankings, moving ahead of Caroline Kulp (2:01.34) and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Maya DiRado (2:01.35).

 Event 7  Women 200 Yard IM
==================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 1:54.48  12/08/16  Alexandra Walsh, Nashville A.C.
    Name            Age Team                 Seed    Prelims HyPts       
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Alexandra Walsh  16 Nashville Aquati  1:54.48    1:56.08  q981  
             25.62        54.45 (28.83)
        1:27.64 (33.19)     1:56.08 (28.44)
  2 Olivia Carter    17 Enfinity Aquatic  1:57.92    1:57.91  q942  
             25.15        54.25 (29.10)
        1:29.39 (35.14)     1:57.91 (28.52)
  3 Katherine Dougl  16 Chelsea Piers Aq  1:59.32    1:58.32  q933  
             25.52        55.72 (30.20)
        1:30.01 (34.29)     1:58.32 (28.31)
  4 Kelly Pash       16 Carmel Swim Club  1:58.30    1:58.81  q922  
             25.59        55.01 (29.42)
        1:30.42 (35.41)     1:58.81 (28.39)
  5 Allison Raab     17 Nashville Aquati  1:58.67    1:59.34  q911  
             26.60        56.80 (30.20)
        1:30.88 (34.08)     1:59.34 (28.46)
  6 Ella Nelson      16 Nashville Aquati  1:58.75    1:59.39  q910  
             26.15        56.47 (30.32)
        1:30.61 (34.14)     1:59.39 (28.78)
  7 Hannah Foster    18 Mason Manta Rays  1:59.32    1:59.63  q905  
             26.25        56.51 (30.26)
        1:31.39 (34.88)     1:59.63 (28.24)
  8 Kathleen Goldin  17 South Florida Aq  1:59.72    1:59.93  q899  
             25.75        56.68 (30.93)
        1:31.87 (35.19)     1:59.93 (28.06)
 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Men’s 200 IM

16-year-old Carson Foster continues to impress with a 1:44.57 for the top seed in the 200 IM. His brother Jake Foster is second in tonight’s A-final with a 1:44.82 for the second seed. Foster is chasing Michael Andrew‘s NAG record of 1:42.77 that also stands as the meet record he set in December 2015. Foster moves up to fifth all-time in the 15-16 all-time rankings ahead of Gunnar Bentz (1:45.17). Jake is now 25th all-time in the 17-18 age group to move ahead of Nic Fink (1:44.86). Those two have a legit chance to go 1-2 in tonight’s final.

Dillon Hillis (1:46.35), Raunak Khosla (1:46.95), Kieran Smith (1:47.13), Destin Lasco (1:47.53), William Chan (1:47.79) and Timothy Connery (1:47.85) will also compete in the A-final.

Smith had cruised on the freestyle leg and will pose a serious challenge to both the Foster boys in tonight’s A-final.

14-year-old Tyler Hong of Great Lakes Sailfish swam a 1:51.43 for 40th place, but he moves up to 13th in the all-time rankings in the 13-14 age group ahead of notable names Ryan Murphy (1:51.67) and Maxime Rooney (1:51.71).

 Event 8  Men 200 Yard IM
==================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 1:42.77  12/2015   Michael Andrew, Indie Swimming
    Name            Age Team                 Seed    Prelims HyPts       
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Carson Foster    16 Mason Manta Rays  1:46.92    1:44.57  q965  
             23.20        48.77 (25.57)
        1:19.91 (31.14)     1:44.57 (24.66)
  2 Jacob Foster     17 Mason Manta Rays  1:47.62    1:44.82  q958  
             23.08        50.05 (26.97)
        1:19.56 (29.51)     1:44.82 (25.26)
  3 Dillon Hillis    17 Bolles School Sh  1:49.60    1:46.35  q920  
             23.12        50.19 (27.07)
        1:20.51 (30.32)     1:46.35 (25.84)
  4 Raunak Khosla    17 Dynamo Swim Club  1:49.26    1:46.95  q905  
             23.06        50.58 (27.52)
        1:21.12 (30.54)     1:46.95 (25.83)
  5 Kieran Smith     17 Ridgefield Aquat  1:46.41    1:47.13  q900  
             22.59        49.11 (26.52)
        1:20.37 (31.26)     1:47.13 (26.76)
  6 Destin Lasco     16 Pleasantville Aq  1:48.07    1:47.53  q890  
             23.81        50.69 (26.88)
        1:23.03 (32.34)     1:47.53 (24.50)
  7 William Chan     17 SwimMAC Carolina  1:48.91    1:47.79  q884  
             23.43        51.21 (27.78)
        1:21.77 (30.56)     1:47.79 (26.02)
  8 Timothy Connery  15 SwimMAC Carolina  2:06.38L   1:47.85  q883  
             23.86        51.36 (27.50)
        1:21.70 (30.34)     1:47.85 (26.15)
 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Women’s 50 Free

14-year-old Gretchen Walsh broke the 13-14 NAG record in the 50 free with a 22.26 on Thursday morning in Knoxville at the Speedo Juniors East Championships. Walsh had a big split last night in the 200 medley relay with a 21 relay split. Walsh broke the NAG record that was a 22.32 set by Katherine Douglass.

Walsh is the top seed of her sister Alex, who swam a 22.35 this morning for the second seed. Douglass is the third seed at 22.48 to set up a huge race. The meet record may not be in jeopardy of 21.49 held by Abbey Weitzeil, but Walsh could potentially be the first 14-year-old under 22 seconds.

Cora Dupre (22.51), Grace Countie (22.52), Gabriela Albiero (22.80), Talia Bates and Olwyn Bartis (22.84) will also swim in the A-final.

 Event 9  Women 50 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 21.49  12/12/14  Abbigail Weitzeil, Canyons Aquatic
    Name            Age Team                 Seed    Prelims HyPts       
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Gretchen Walsh   14 Nashville Aquati    22.77      22.26  q943  
  2 Alexandra Walsh  16 Nashville Aquati    22.48      22.35  q934  
  3 Katherine Dougl  16 Chelsea Piers Aq    22.04      22.48  q921  
  4 Cora Dupre       16 Mason Manta Rays    22.84      22.51  q917  
  5 Grace Countie    18 Marlins of Ralei    22.37      22.52  q916  
  6 Gabriela Albier  15 Cardinal Aquatic    22.78      22.80  q888  
  7 Talia Bates      16 Gator Swim Club-    22.64      22.84  q884  
  7 Olwyn Bartis     16 SwimMAC Carolina    23.47      22.84  q884

Men’s 50 Free

Indiana swimmers Drew Kibler and Jack Franzman are the top two seeds in tonight’s 50 free as the only swimmers under 20 seconds this morning in Knoxville at Speedo Juniors East. Kibler swam a 19.55 to Franzman’s 19.98. It will take a lot for Kibler to break 19 seconds, but it will be a fun race between the two Indianapolis natives.

Kibler is now 19th in the 17-18 all-time rankings ahead of Nathan Adrian (19.57) at the 2007 NCAA’s.

Justin Grender (20.01), John Walker (20.18), Cody Bybee (20.19), Mason Gonzalez (20.25), Matthew Yish (20.28) and Carson Foster (20.28) will also swim in the A-final.

 Event 10  Men 50 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
  SC Jrs Meet: J 18.71  12/10/16  Ryan Hoffer, Scottsdale Aq.
    Name            Age Team                 Seed    Prelims HyPts       
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Drew Kibler      17 Carmel Swim Club    19.66      19.55  q926  
  2 Jack Franzman    18 Zionsville Swim-    19.81      19.98  q882  
  3 Justin Grender   17 Cincinnati Marli    20.43      20.01  q879  
  4 John Walker      16 SwimMAC Carolina    20.10      20.18  q862  
  5 Cody Bybee       18 Dayton Raiders-O    20.31      20.19  q861  
  6 Mason Gonzalez   17 Allegheny North-    19.99      20.25  q854  
  7 Matthew Yish     17 SOLO Aquatics-NE    20.48      20.28  q851  
  7 Carson Foster    16 Mason Manta Rays    20.91      20.28  q851  
 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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The pro peloton’s biggest changes in 2018

A number of factors could come into play to shape the 2018 pro cycling season – we take a look

Professional cycling’s landscape keeps changing, and for 2018 the peloton literally takes on a newer dimension with smaller team sizes in races and, as a result, reduced WorldTour team rosters.

We take a look at these and other big changes that could affect the 2018 season and its principal actors.

Race rosters and team sizes

Racing could dramatically change in the Classics and stage races in 2018 with the super teams possibly losing their grip due to reduced rosters. A new UCI rule cuts the rosters for teams in Grand Tours from nine to eight riders, and from eight to seven in the smaller stage races and Classics, and from seven to six in some other races.

In the Tour de France, Sky could still keep the reins even with eight riders, but if early crashes eliminate two or even one of their riders then everything changes. As an example, Team Movistar’s Tour in 2017 with Nairo Quintana took a hit in stage one when Alejandro Valverde’s fell and abandoned. Or Fabio Aru’s loss of helpers Jakob Fuglsang and Dario Cataldo. If such a thing happened in 2018, the teams would be nearly helpless.

Team Sky at the Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Owain Doull pointed out in a recent interview that it will become tougher to even get selected for the biggest races.

“It’ll be even harder [for the Classics] with Dylan Van Baarle joining the team and the roster cut down to seven. We have a stronger squad, and to be involved will be massive.”

As a result, teams have trimmed the fat for 2018. The WorldTour has shrunk from 499 riders to around 476. BMC Racing counts five less than in 2017. Many teams are continuing with around two fewer riders. Only some expanded: Sky grew from 28 to 30 and teams Bahrain-Merida and Trek-Segafredo each added one.

UAE Team Emirates gets major update

Alexander Kristoff is one of the big names to join UAE Team Emirates in 2018. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

UAE Team Emirates have dropped from 26 to 25 riders for 2018, but have considerably beefed up. The Arabian team will take fire at the Classics and Grand Tours with Alexander Kristoff (from Team Katusha-Alpecin), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) coming on board.

United Arab Emirates only joined the peloton in 2017 but did so late in the previous off-season when a Chinese sponsor, that was ready to replace Lampre-Merida, fell through. Instead, the Italian team turned to the Gulf. They signed a few cyclists like Ben Swift and Darwin Atapuma, but had no time or space to bring on more.

A deal early on locked in Aru and another brought on board Martin. Aru will lead the Giro d’Italia team, trying to finally win his home Grand Tour after conquering the 2015 Vuelta a España. Martin, who will race the Tour, says the roles can be shared easily.

“If you want to be one of the best teams in the world you have to be present in every single race and there are many races, so there’s space and opportunity,” Martin said. “Even just to race two out of the three Grand Tours, it’s already hard to do. There’s a lot of room on the calendar for us.”

Kristoff managed to win eight times and place second in the world championship behind Peter Sagan even if it was not one of his best seasons. The team will hope that he finds the same fitness that in previous years have carried him to wins in Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders.



Froome returns to the Giro d’Italia

Tour and Vuelta winner Froome is looking to make it three Grand Tours in a row at the Giro. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Chris Froome’s spring will take a seriously different turn in 2018 with his aim to win the Giro d’Italia. Instead of skipping the race and spending most of May in training camps, he will aim to complete the full set of Grand Tours.

After winning the Tour de France four times, Froome will return to the Giro for the first time since 2010. In 2018, though, he will be starting with the 2017 Tour and Vuelta trophies already on his shelf. If he wins the Giro, he would become one of only three, along with Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, to have three consecutive Grand Tour wins. He then plans to take aim at a fifth Tour de France title.

>>> Comment: If anyone can win the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double, it’s Chris Froome

Froome’s presence will give RCS Sport an “important global reach,” said its cycling director, Mauro Vegni. He also hopes that it will spur the others to attack the star early on and create an even more entertaining race.

His Giro programme also changes the plans of Sky’s other stars. One source suggested Geraint Thomas could race the Giro and Tour with Froome, and Wout Poels and Michal Kwiatkowski will lead the Vuelta team.

Tom Boonen and Alberto Contador’s retirement

Alberto Contador bowed out at the Vuelta, leaving a hole in the peloton. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Certain riders, like Belgian Classics star Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) and Spanish Grand Tour specialist Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), define the generations in cycling. With their retirements, a new era begins for many who were previously overshadowed or who had not yet spread their wings.

Contador ended on top, retiring in the Vuelta a España after winning the final mountain stage up the widely-feared Angliru. It marked a career with wins in all three Grand Tours – seven in total.

>>> Tom Boonen: ‘I feel like cycling is already in the distant past’

His retirement changes Trek-Segafredo’s plans, which will go into stage races with less-defined roles. It will build mostly with new signee Gianluca Brambilla for the Giro and Bauke Mollema for the Tour.

Boonen conquered the Tour of Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix four times. After his retirement following the 2017 Paris-Roubaix – and with Fabian Cancellara already gone – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) will carry even more of the weight in the Classics.

Mikel Landa leaves Sky for Movistar

Mikel Landa leaves Sky for Movistar in 2018. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

The Spanish press already talk about who will replace their king of stage racing, Alberto Contador. The choice appears obvious with Mikel Landa leaving Team Sky to join home team, Movistar, for 2018.

Landa joined Sky from team Astana, where he placed third overall in the Giro d’Italia while riding for Fabio Aru’s second place behind Alberto Contador. Over the last two years, he has helped Chris Froome take two Tour de France titles. He also had his chance to lead the Giro d’Italia team, but bad luck ruled him out of overall contention both times. In 2017, he still returned home to the Basque Country with the mountains jersey and a stage win.

>>> Mikel Landa excited to go head-to-head with ‘best in the world’ Chris Froome in 2018

In France in July, many followers called him the strongest and commented Sky should back him instead of Froome for the overall. Even after performing his duties, he was able to secure a fourth place overall.

Movistar signed Landa to lead their Grand Tour teams. It will slot him into its roster with Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. Our sources say Valverde will race the Giro and Landa will race the Tour with Quintana and the Vuelta with the world championships in mind.

The 2018 season will test Landa, who will earn much and carry a lot of expectation to make another step in his progression.


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A Boy from Illinois Makes It Big in California Water Polo

Celebration of Bruin pride. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

It was—in many ways—an impossible dream: a talented and determined young water polo player from the middle of the country going west to play water polo at UCLA, one of the country’s most accomplished programs.

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But Matt Farmer of La Grange, Illinois, was not just any player. Starting at age eight when he got in the water with the Lyons Swim Club and continuing through his training under legendary coach Dave Perry and his son Kyle at Chicago’s Fenwick High School, Farmer was one of the best prospects coming out of the Midwest since Chris Wendt, who also played at UCLA.

Farmer’s hard work has now paid off many times over. With a gritty 7-5 win last Sunday over arch-rival USC, Farmer combined with fellow seniors Jack Grover, Max Irving and Alex Roelse to lead the Bruins to a third NCAA title in in their UCLA careers.

The win caps Farmer’s amazing career in Westwood, one which makes him arguably the most accomplished water polo athletes to come out of the Midwest. Following UCLA’s victory last Sunday at Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Swimming World spoke with Farmer, his coach Adam Wright and his father Jim for the backstory of one of the the 2017 NCAA champions’ most endearing competitors.

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Matt, how many kids from the Midwest get to play on an NCAA men’s water polo champion?

Not many, that’s for sure. I got the most out of my experience at UCLA and it’s been unbelievable. I can’t thank everyone who supported me enough. My coaches back in Chicago, my parents—and of course Adam has been amazing and turned me into a player that I never thought I could become.

I believed the whole way that we could get it done.

How did USA Water Polo’s John Abdou impact your career?

I was trying out for the [Cadet] team as a utility [player], but he convinced me to play center, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I guess it was the right move.

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Jim, Matt Farmer at Fenwick High School. Photo Courtesy: Jim Farmer

What is it about the UCLA winning culture?

It’s the culture that Adam instills in us. The seniors and the leaders that have come before us and have passed this down to us. The culture that training every day the same way is how we do things, and treating everything the same.

I hope that culture passes down to the younger guys as I leave.

Your team has a bunch of seniors, just like USC, but even though you had won before you were still hungry.

We believed we had the capability to do something really special—even if people didn’t really think we did. We worked every single day in the off-season, all through the season bringing in the new guys and trying to be good examples for them.

Everyone from top to bottom believed we could do it. We might have been the only ones but we were the ones who believed. And that’s all that mattered.

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As Alex Roelse shoots, Farmer is set up in the slot. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne/KLC fotos

How might your success inspire other from the Midwest to reach the same heights?

I hope it inspires people to chase their dreams when it comes to water polo and that kids from the Midwest can come out and make an impact on a high-level in NCAA. I hope it impacts the coaching and the officiating back there because there’s a lot of work to do in those departments.

Starting as an eight-year-old, my coaches in Chicago instilled in me a great basis of love for the fundamentals game, especially when it came to defense. Those stay with me to this day, and they kept getting better and better every coach I played for. Of course Adam turned me into what I am now.

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UCLA Head Coach Adam Wright about Matt Farmer

[C]oming from Illinois…. [Matt] had the drive before he come to UCLA. That’s instilled probably from home. And he was coming out to California to play in the summers.

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Adam Wright. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Haynes/KLC fotos

[He] willed his way into being a big contributor on our 2014 team. If you were looking at the straight depth chart under center when he came in as a freshman, he was at the bottom. He took it upon himself in his redshirt year. He was going to the weight room six days a week and coming to the pool at night.

[Matt] did everything he could because he wanted to be in there. [His success] is a direct result of his drive to be the very best he could be.

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Jim Farmer talks about his connection with his son

He’s exceeded every dream I ever had. I couldn’t be prouder. When he was eight years-old and he tried water polo—which he didn’t want to do—he came out and said: “This is my sport.”

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Jim, Beatrice, Matt, Danny Farmer & the 2017 NCAA Trophy

I was fortunate enough that I could help him go to the places that he needed to go. In the summers in seventh grade I sent him out here to California. The families that we’ve dealt with in his club—VCP, Delmar—they’ve been so wonderful. It’s a small world and we help each other out; there’s no way I could thank all those people for what they’ve done for Matt.

How will Matt’s success impact the water polo scene in Chicago?

Between my son and Danielle Jackovich at Stanford, I hope it’s an incentive for them. I know there are kids at Fenwick who strive to do what Matt has been able to accomplish.

There were eight Illinois coaches and referees up in the stands. They’re into it; they want to grow the sport.

Whatever we can do to help them, the more the better. Little steps; you’ve got to walk before you can run.

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Scotland's Kelsey MacDonald stays second at Dubai Ladies Classic

Kelsey MacDonald plays a shot at the Dubai Ladies Classic

Dubai Ladies Classic first-round leaderboard
-10 A V Dam (Ned); -8 K MacDonald (Sco); -7 T Suwannapura (Tha), G Hall (Eng), C Yuan (Aus); -6 S Sangchan (Tha), N B Larsen (Den), M Thomson (Sco), S Schober (Aut); -5 H Burke, F Parker (both Eng), M Blomqvist (Fin), A Ashok (Ind)
Selected others:-4 C Hull, M MacLaren (both Eng), P Pretswell Asher (Sco); -3 H Clyburn (Eng); -2 L Davies (Eng), G Dryburgh (Sco); -1 J Ewart Shadoff, G Clews (both Eng)

Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald is two shots off the lead at the Dubai Ladies Classic after hitting a four-under-par 68 in round two.

The 27-year-old world number 521 made six birdies and two bogeys to move to outright second on eight under.

England’s Georgia Hall is in a three-way tie for third, one shot behind MacDonald, after a five-under 67.

Anne van Dam of the Netherlands leads on 10 under after a bogey-free seven-under 65 at Emirates Golf Club.

MacDonald, who is seeking her first Ladies’ European Tour title, was one under for her round at the turn as Van Dam surged ahead with five birdies on the front nine.

The Scot then made bogey at 11 but closed with four successive birdies to end up Van Dam’s nearest challenger after starting the day in a four-way tie for second.

Overnight leader Supamas Sangchan dropped back after a one-under 71 and is now in a share of sixth that also includes Scotland’s Michelle Thomson who shot 68.

England’s Hannah Burke and Florentyna Parker are 10th in a group of four players five shots off the lead.

Compatriot Charley Hull, the world number 28, is a shot further back, alongside England’s Meghan MacLaren and Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell Asher.

Dame Laura Davies, 54, slipped out of the top 10 after making four bogeys and three birdies in a one-over 73.

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