Leader's jersey scant consolation for Ewan at Tour de Yorkshire

Caleb Ewan was already cloistered aboard the Orica-Scott motorhome past the finish line in Harrogate when an emissary from the Tour de Yorkshire race organisation rapped on the door to inform him that he had picked up enough time bonuses to divest Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) of the leader’s jersey.

For a sprinter, the general classification is merely an afterthought. In the here and now, Ewan was digesting a second successive second place finish, but he wore his disappointment lightly as he soft-pedalled back to the podium to accept the unexpected consolation prize of the blue jersey.

Like at Scarborough on Friday, Ewan was left with simply too much ground to make up in the final 300 metres in Harrogate. On stage 1, he had at least been able to close to within inches of Groenewegen by the finish, but Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) already had a winning lead by the time Ewan had launched his effort in earnest on the uphill finish here.

“It’s pretty disappointing because I had good legs,” Ewan said. “I think we stuffed up a little bit in the finish. When there was that dip with 600 metres to go we really needed to use the speed we had and keep going but instead we hesitated and we got swamped. Once I got boxed in, it was too hard to get back, especially once the momentum was off, so it’s a bit disappointing.”

The lightly-climbing finish on Parliament Street was expected to favour both Bouhanni and Ewan, but it was perhaps the slight drop before the final kick to the line that proved decisive. Bouhanni was well-placed and then quick to respond when Jonathan Hivert (Direct Energie) went from distance, while Ewan found himself on the back foot. It was all the more frustrating given how assuredly Orica-Scott had ridden at the head of the peloton, shutting down the repeated attacks during a rather breathless final half hour of racing.

“In the last 15 kilometres there were lots of attacks. We kind of just stayed together rand we pretty much nailed it until that last bit,” Ewan said. “Instead of going in that dip and using the speed we had, we kind of slowed a little bit, and once we wiped off our speed it was way too hard to come back.

“We either wanted to take it from the front or come from pretty far back and use the run up off the ramp up that steep bit at the finish. The guys were feeling good and we took the front there. That’s two seconds in a row now. I’ve been feeling pretty good the last two days and it would have been nice to finish it off with a win today.”

Ewan will carry an overall lead of two seconds over Bouhanni and Groenewegen into Sunday’s final leg between Bradford and Sheffield, but none of that trio will expect to be in the shake-up for overall honours given the severity of a stage that includes no fewer than eight categorised climbs.

“It’s super tough and I think I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could keep the jersey as well,” Ewan smiled when asked about his prospects of pulling off a surprise.

Just six days from the start of the Giro d’Italia, the 194.5-kilometre stage will instead double as Ewan’s final significant block of training before the corsa rosa. Although Orica-Scott’s team will be built primarily around Adam Yates’ general classification challenge, Ewan will set out from Sardinia as one of the marquee sprinters in the field and will seek to add the Vuelta a España stage he won on his Grand Tour debut in 2015.

“You know this is probably the last preparation for the Giro,” Ewan said. “I’ll go hard tomorrow and see how deep I can go and how far I can go into the stage.”

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Adrianne Crawford – Breast Cancer Recovery (25 mins) – Level 1

What You’ll Need:

Mat, Wall, Table Chair, Towel, Pilates Pole

Improve your range of motion after breast surgery with the exercises in this class by Adrianne Crawford. She uses gentle movements to help improve shoulder function and mobility and to increase circulation. Working on these after surgery will help to enhance your quality of life.

Adrianne starts with a brief overview of what these exercises will do and when you should incorporate them into your routine. The movement portion of this class begins at about 4:00.

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Team New Zealand Claims 5 Golds on Night 3 of 2017 TYR Fran Crippen Memorial SMOC

The third night of competition at the 2017 TYR Fran Crippen Memorial SMOC saw Abbey Weitzeil top the women’s splash and dash, while Team New Zealand collected five of the eight individual gold medals for night three.

Katie McLaughlin, swimming unattached, picked up the win in the women’s 200 free on night three. McLaughlin posted a 2:00.94 to slide past her prelims swim of 2:02.22. New Zealand’s Georgia Marris grabbed a narrow second place over Mission Viejo’s Ella Ristic as the two stopped the clock at times of 2:01.38 and 2:01.43 respectively.

New Zealand’s Matt Stanley delivered the top time in the men’s 200 free, stopping the clock at a 1:48.91 to scrape 3.08 seconds off his prelims swim of 1:51.99. Dylan Carter, swimming unattached, grabbed second overall with a 1:49.43, while Cal’s Tom Shields finished third with a 1:50.17.

Riley Scott swam away with the competition in finals of the women’s 200 breast, posted a dominating 2:31.99 to finish more than three seconds ahead of the competition. Isabelle Odgers turned in a 2:35.00 for second, followed by Juliana Witting’s third-place finish of 2:39.11. All three swimmers swam unattached.

The New Zealand men continued to throw down top times as George Schroder grabbed a dynamic win in the men’s 200 breast. Schroder delivered a 2:14.83 for the gold, scraping 2.36 seconds off his prelims swim of 2:17.19. TRA’s AJ Pouch was second overall wit ha 2:17.00, just ahead of Zane Backes, swimming unattached, and his time of 2:19.01.

Abbey Weitzeil and Canyon Aquatics’ Amanda Kendall went head-to-head once again with a sprint showdown in the women’s 50 free. This time it was Weitzeil who claimed victory, stopping the clock at a sizzling 25.35 over Kendall’s 25.47. Weitzeil’s teammate Amy Bilquist finished third overall with a 25.71.

Daniel Hunter of New Zealand earned yet another victory for the Kiwis, delivering the only sub-23 second swim in the men’s 50 free. Hunter posted a 22.94 for gold, followed by Mason Tittle’s 23.56. Nate Biondi, swimming unattached, rounded out the podium with a 23.62.

New Zealand’s Helena Gasson continued the Kiwi power with a dominating finish in the women’s 400 IM. Gasson swam ahead of the competition to claim gold with a 4:45.32, finishing more than seven seconds ahead of the competition. Katie Glavinovich, swimming unattached, grabbed second overall with a 4:52.56, followed by CITI’s Jasmine Margetts’ 4:56.82.

Bradlee Ashby closed out the individual events with another gold medal for Team New Zealand. Ashby posted a 4:23.80 to win the men’s 400 IM, just ahead of Abrahm DeVine’s time of 4:24.17. Curtis Ogren, swimming unattached, was third overall with a 4:28.04.

All results can be found on Meet Mobile – 2017 CA TYR/MVN Fran Crippen Mem SMOC

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Rick Colella Among Two-Event Record-Setters at USMS Nationals, Lochte and Adrian Win Two Each

The penultimate day of the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championships in Riverside, Calif., featured a whopping 21 national records broken, some by massive margins. Five swimmers, Rick ColellaLaura ValKarlyn PipesDiann Uustal and Jeff Natalizio, broke two records each on the day.

Colella demolished two world records in the 65-69 men’s age group. His 2:16.70 in the 200 breast beat the previous record by more than 13 seconds, and his 57.45 in the 100 IM was a record by more than three.

Pipes’ two records came in the 55-59 women’s 100 fly (1:00.41) and 100 IM (1:02.34), while Val broke her own 65-69 women’s age group records in the 100 fly (1:06.70) and 50 back. Uustal took down a pair of 70-74 women’s records in the 100 IM (1:15.29) and 50 back (34.77)

Natalizio, meanwhile, took down records in the 100 IM (49.01) and 50 back (22.62), beating marks previously held by U.S. Olympian Josh Davis.

Ryan Lochte won two more events in his first meet since the Olympics in Rio, winning the 30-34 men’s 100 IM in a USMS-record time of 47.71 and also taking the 50 back in 21.73.

Nathan Adrian also made an appearance at the meet, winning two events in the 25-29 men’s age group. He won the 100 fly in 48.06 and the 100 IM in 48.99.

Read below for a full list of all the record-breakers from the day.

25-29 Women:

  • Danielle Hermann, 100 IM, 54.40 (old record: Megan Jendrick, 54.43)

30-34 Men:

  • Ryan Lochte, 100 IM, 47.71 (old record: Matt Grevers, 47.78)

35-39 Men:

  • Mario Marshall, 100 fly, 49.02 (old record: Glenn Counts, 49.12)
  • Jeff Natalizio, 100 IM, 49.01 (old record: Josh Davis, 50.06)
  • Jeff Natalizio, 50 back, 22.62 (old record: Josh Davis, 22.70)

35-39 Women:

  • Gabrielle Cheng, 100 IM, 57.25 (old record: Sheri Hart, 57.67)
  • Noriko Inada, 50 back, 24.71 (old record: Inada, 25.02)

45-49 Men:

  • Steve West, 200 breast, 2:02.42 (old record: Nicholas Granger, 2:07.40)

50-54 Men:

  • Mike Irvin, 100 IM, 53.60 (old record: David Sims, 54.28)

55-59 Women:

  • Jill Hernandez, 500 free, 5:20.68 (old record: Laura Val, 5:27.33)
  • Karlyn Pipes, 100 fly, 1:00.41 (old record: Laura Val, 1:01.31)
  • Karlyn Pipes, 100 IM, 1:02.34 (old record: Pipes, 1:02.59)

60-64 Men:

  • Philip Djang, 50 back, 26.70 (old record: Hugh Wilder, 26.82)

65-69 Men:

  • Rick Colella, 200 breast, 2:16.70 (old record: Robert Strand, 2:30.17)
  • Rick Colella, 100 IM, 57.45 (old record: Richard Abrahams, 1:00.32)

65-69 Women:

  • Laura Val, 100 fly, 1:06.70 (old record: Val, 1:07.42)
  • Laura Val, 50 back, 30.41 (old record: Val, 30.87)

70-74 Men:

  • Andrew McPherson, 100 IM, 1:04.77 (old record: James Elder, 1:05.05)

70-74 Women:

  • Diann Uustal, 100 IM, 1:15.29 (old record: Gail Roper, 1:21.97)
  • Diann Uustal, 50 back, 34.77 (old record: Betsy Jordan, 36.91)

95-99 Women:

  • Maurine Kornfeld, 500 free, 11:45.41 (old record: Rita Simonton, 12:28.16)

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Ian Poulter: Ryder Cup veteran retains PGA Tour card

Ian Poulter

England’s Ian Poulter will retain his PGA Tour card for the rest of this season after a change to the rules.

The Ryder Cup veteran, 41, was set to lose his playing rights after he failed to earn the required points or prize money in the 10 events covered by his medical exemption after a foot injury.

However, the PGA Tour have decided that their rules “unintentionally made it more difficult” for injured players.

“It’s a relief I can plan my schedule for the rest of 2017,” Poulter said.

“Obviously I’ve got work to do but I’m in a very different situation today than I was yesterday.”

Poulter is playing in this week’s revamped New Orleans Classic team event as the invited partner of Geoff Ogilvy, who qualified for the tournament.

The duo are nine shots back after the opening three rounds, but should they win on Sunday, both will receive a two-year Tour exemption.

World number 195 Poulter had previously said he thought his struggles had been “slightly over-dramatised”.

But the 2008 Open runner-up admitted that “being in kind of no-man’s-land, not knowing whether you’re going to play golf, is very tough”.

Brian Gay of the United States is the other player to have benefited from the change.

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Caleb Ewan sharpens his Giro sprint in Yorkshire

Caleb Ewan calls the Tour de Yorkshire is ‘perfect preparation’ for the Giro d’Italia which starts next Friday, as he takes two second places in the race’s two bunch sprints

New Tour de Yorkshire GC leader Caleb Ewan says the British race will be the ideal preparation for his assault on the Giro d’Italia, which starts next Friday in Sardinia.

The diminutive Aussie fastman placed second in the bunch sprint for the second day running after the 122.5km dash from Tadcaster to Harrogate. The stage win went to Nacer Bouhanni of Cofidis.

“If luck kinda went my way I could’ve stood on the top step here,” said Ewan. “But I definitely think my form’s there and I can take that kind of confidence going into the Giro.”

Final sprint, Tour de Yorkshire 2017 stage two

His chief rivals in Italy in the sprints are set to be André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors).

However, sizing up Sunday’s ultra-hilly stage in Yorkshire, he admitted that holding onto the GC leader’s blue jersey to the end of the race was unlikely.

“It’ll be a good last hit-out I think before the Giro,” he said. “If I can get one last good hit-out tomorrow and then rest up till the Giro on Friday I think it’ll be perfect preparation for me.”

Just like all the men and women who have raced here this weekend, the 22-year-old was bountiful in his praise for the race and in particular the crowds.

Caleb Ewan, Tour de Yorkshire 2017 stage two

“It’s amazing. Even yesterday during business hours the crowd was amazing, and then today it’s the weekend and it seems like everyone came out to watch the race.

“I love racing here — the crowds here are probably the best in the world,” he said, before reiterating what seems to be another universally accepted constant here — that the riding is extremely tough.

“Shorter stages seem to be a bit tougher. It’s kind of hard all day, and the roads here they’re narrow and they’re kind of dead, and steep little climbs… it never makes for an easy stage. It was predicted to be a sprint it wasn’t really that straightforward.”

Ewan leads the GC by two seconds from fellow sprinters Bouhanni and stage one winner Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo). But it’s unlikely any of them will be anywhere near the top of the leaderboard in 24 hours’ time, with eight climbs to be contested over 194km from Bradford to the race’s denouement in Fox Valley, Sheffield.


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Gary Hunt Collects Gold at FINA High Diving World Cup

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

Gary Hunt (GBR) among men and Adriana Jimenez (MEX) in the women’s field were the winners of the 4th FINA High Diving World Cup, staged in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on April 28-29, 2017. The British star concluded the two-day competition, with a total of 443.40 after the four dives included in the programme, while the Mexican winner amassed 316.45 points. Hunt was already the winner of this event in 2016 and he is the current world champion, while this was the first success at this level for Jimenez.

In the men’s competition (23 divers were present in the capital of the United Arab Emirates), the minor medals went to Steve Lobue, from USA, who got the silver in 405.30, while Michal Navratil, from Czech Republic, earned bronze in 381.95. The US star upgraded his previous result from a FINA competition, after being twice third at the 2014 and 2015 editions of the World Cup. Navratil, whose best previous performance had been a fourth placing at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona (ESP), got his first podium presence in a FINA event.

Previous medallists in the World Cup were not so lucky this time: Jonathan Paredes (MEX) finished fourth, just 0.95 shy of the bronze; Orlando Duque (COL) was sixth (350.90); and Artem Silchenko (RUS) modestly concluded in 13th (285.00)

In the women’s field (13 divers were on the entry list, but US Genevieve Bradley got injured while training and could not take part in the competition), the unprecedented victory of Jimenez was a fair reward for her regularity throughout the competition. Rhiannan Iffland, from Australia, is also a new presence in the podium, taking silver in 312.80. Yana Nestsiarava, from Belarus, equalled her best outcome in a FINA competition, earning bronze in 296.80. She was also third at the Kazan 2015 FINA World Championships.

The 2016 World Cup champion, Canada’s Lysanne Richard concluded only in ninth. Other former medallists couldn’t also repeat their previous best performances: Ginger Huber (USA) was fourth (296.30); Anna Bader (GER) finished fifth (281.95); Cesilie Carlton (USA) was the sixth best; and Helena Merten (AUS) couldn’t do better than ninth.

Medallists in Abu Dhabi (UAE):

Men
1. Gary Hunt (GBR), 443.40; 2. Steve Lobue (USA), 405.30; 3. Michal Navratil (CZE), 381.95

Women
1. Adriana Jimenez (MEX), 316.45; 2. Rhiannan Iffland (AUS), 312.80; 3. Yana Nestsiarava (BLR), 296.80

Press release courtesy of FINA. 

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MPSF Tournament Central: Cal Knocks off ASU in Pivotal Quarterfinal Match

Cal’s Dora Antal. Photo Courtesy Al Sermeno/Cal Athletics

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

LOS ANGELES, CA. Riding a game-high three goals from junior Dora Anatal and a suffocating defense anchored by senior netminder Madeline Trabucco that stymied ASU leading scorer Lena Mihailovic, #5 Cal captured a pivotal 9-7 win over #4 Arizona State Friday in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Women’s Water Polo Tournament.

“Dora is one of those athletes who’s willing to take big shots and take responsibility for those moments,” Cal coach Coralie Simmons said immediately following the match. “She’s fearless and the team is reliant upon her for that.”

With their win, the Bears (15-7, 2-4 MPSF) advance to a Saturday semifinal at 2:30 p.m PST against UCLA (20-1, 6-0 MPSF), the nation’s top-ranked team. By virtue of an undefeated record in conference play, the host Bruins enjoyed a day of rest while the other six MPSF teams battled it out at Spieker Aquatics Center.

In other MPSF quarterfinal action, #2 Stanford (19-2, 5-1 MPSF) beat CSU Bakersfield (12-16, 0-6 MPSF) 14-2 while #3 USC (27-2, 4-2 MPSF) demolished San Jose State 17-2 (10-18, 1-5 MPSF), setting up a semifinal showdown Saturday at 12:45 p.m. PST between the Cardinal and the Trojans.

simmons-cal

Cal’s Coralie Simmons. Photo Courtesy: Peter Trabucco

The Bears’ coach was understandably elated by her team’s all-around performance.

“This was a big marker for us to show our ability in a well-rounded game,” Simmons said. “We haven’t shown offense, defense and counterattack inclusive in one showing but it was a touch of everything for us [today]—which is what we’ve been waiting for all season.”

No match on day the tournament’s first day was more highly anticipated than the one between the Sun Devil and Golden Bears. The teams had split two previous meetings—Cal took an 10-4 non-conference decision in February at the Barbara Kalbus Invitation, while ASU surprised the Bears last month in Berkeley, eking out a 7-6 win.

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Cal’s Madeline Trabucco. Photo Courtesy: Peter Trabucco

In a match that had NCAA tournament implications—the loser of Friday’s match would be eliminated from consideration for one of three NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament berths—it was the Bears who struck first. Less than a minute into the match sophomore Kacey Adams slipped a skip shot past ASU’s Taylor Barret. The Sun Devils answered halfway through the period on a blast from sophomore Grace Morgan. Antal, who played for Hungary in the 2016 Rio Olympics, put Cal up again with at the 1:46 mark with ASU down a player. But the Sun Devils answered right back with a three-meter strike by Kayla Casas on their next possession.

The two teams traded goals in a defensive-minded second period. Antal again put her team up by a goal, with another man-up strike, while ASU’s Alkistis Banakou scored three minutes later, knotting the match at 3-all going into halftime.

At the break, Simmons, who took the helm of the storied Bears program last September after previous coach stints at Sonoma State University and with the U.S. Women’s National Team, exhorted her team to respond to the challenge.  And they did. The Bears outscored the Sun Devils by two in a decisive third period.

“There were a few runs in that game and that was one that put us in a position to control the second half,” Simmons said.

It was Cal’s play with on the man advantage that was the difference. Led by Antal’s three scores the Bears cashed in four times with an extra player. They took the lead for good early with two minutes gone in the third after ASU freshman Bente Rogge was whistled for an exclusion. Senior Genevieve Weed then scored from in front of the Sun Devil cage to put her team up 4-3. A minute later freshman Emma Wright put an emphatic finish on a breakaway, scoring past a diving Barret to give Cal a two goal lead.

Halfway through the period ASU’s Rogge would atone for her exclusion with a power play goal of her own goal against Cal’s Trabucco. But another Wright tally at the 1:53 mark and a tip goal by sophomore Sarah Seipker a minute later gave the Bears a three-goal edge at 8-5.

mihailovic-asu

ASU’s Lena Mihailovic. Photo Courtesy: ASU Athletics

Rogge connected on a five-meter blast on the power play one minute into the fourth quarter to make it a two goal game. Then the Bear defense stiffened. The Sun Devils went the next six minutes without a goal, including a brilliant stop with three minutes left by Trabucco, who soared high to deny Mihailovic’s shot seeking the upper left-hand corner of the Cal cage.

ASU’s top offensive threat final got on the score sheet with 1:30 left, registering her 44th goal of the season with a skip shot past Trabucco, but by then it was too little too late. Antal iced the upset with her program-leading 192nd tally to likely lead Cal to a berth in the NCAAs and more meaningful games in the weeks ahead.

“It’s a fun conference rivalry,” Simmons quipped about playing UCLA, where she was a two-time National Player of the Year (1997, 1998). “We want to get after them in the semis.”

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Sharapova beaten in Stuttgart semi-finals

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova suffered a first defeat since returning from a 15-month doping ban as Kristina Mladenovic beat her in the semi-finals of the Stuttgart Open.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova went down 6-3 5-7 4-6 in a match lasting two hours, 38 minutes.

Having been given a wildcard entry, the Russian needed to reach the final in Germany to be eligible for qualifying for the French Open.

Mladenovic faces Romanian Simona Halep or German Laura Siegemund in the final.

More to follow.

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MPSF Tournament Central: Catching Up With UCLA’s Maddie Musselman and Rachel Fattal

Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo Courtesy: Tom Pennington

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

LOS ANGELES, CA. After knocking off longtime rivals Stanford and USC in successive games the last two weekends, UCLA has risen to the top of women’s water polo this season. Driving this success has been four fifth-year seniors—headlined by Rachel Fattal—and a dynamic freshman named Maddie Musselman.

Musselman burst on to the public scene last summer as an 18 year-old at the Rio Olympic Games. Along with another precocious newcomer—Mackenzie Fischer—Musselman was a key contributor to the U.S. Women’s National Team’s gold-winning effort, notching 12 goals. Despite a transition to college life, she has continued her offensive onslaught, with 55 goals this season to lead the Bruins.  Musselman has captured a record seven Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Newcomer of the Week awards, including an unprecedented twin billing: Newcomer and Player of the Week awards for her performance last Saturday in an 11-7 win over USC, notching five goals as the Bruin clinched first place in the MPSF regular season.

If Musselman has been a freshman phenom, Fattal has be a dependable but dynamic contributor over her four years at UCLA. Like Musselman she was a member of the U.S. team that struck gold at Rio. Considered one of the world’s top players, Fattal is now UCLA’s all-time leader in steals, number three all-time in goals scored (210), and an acknowledged leader of the team that is the odds-on choice to win the 2017 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament.

Prior to the Bruin’s MPSF semi-final game Saturday against Cal at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center, Swimming World spoke with Musselman and Fattal about their shared Olympic experiences, the challenge of playing against Olympic teammates Fischer and Maddie Steffens, now with Stanford, and their drive to bring a national championship to Westwood.

How did your Olympic experience inform this season at UCLA?

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Rachel Fattal. Photo Courtesy: Richard Quinton

Rachel Fattal: The Olympic experience was amazing—we can both attest to that. It’s unreal to represent our country and do something bigger than ourselves. Being able to come back [to UCLA] and play here again was awesome.

We have amazing players on our team. it’s been great to come back to UCLA and fit right back in.

Bringing what we learned over years of training on the national team here to the girls on this team, being able to teach them, that’s been one of the biggest things that Maddie and I tried to bring this year.

Maddie Musselman: Definitely eye-opening, especially coming from high school. Going to the Olympic team was a big jump. To experience so many different challenges and adversity—it was amazing.

At the Olympics you play against the best players in the world. To have the skills you develop [from that experience] and to bring them back to college and your new teammates and the team you get to be a part of—that’s super fun.

You are now a fifth-year senior and part of a group of four other seniors who have never won an NCAA championship, Talk about your expectations for this year.

Fattal: Our goal is always to win a national championship—no matter what year, what team. It’s about putting together our best team and our best games during the season. That’s the goal this year and that’s the goal every year I’ve been here.

We’ve definitely had some heart-breaking losses, but as a fifth-year senior, and someone who has experienced those losses, we carry them with us and bring them into practice.

If that’s what’s going to push us to be our best, thinking that we have gotten really close and almost made it to the national championship and then lost in the last few seconds [to Stanford in 2015].

We bring that with us and hope that’s going to be able to push our team. Maybe Maddie wasn’t there but I bet you if I said: “Hey Mads, this is what happened,” [she’d say]: “We’re not going to let that happen again.”

I know that every other person on our team feels the same way. Just because people have experienced being there and losing doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same desire to win.

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Maddie Musselman. Photo Courtesy: Richard Quinton

As a freshman you bring a fresh—and perhaps vital—perspective to Bruins water polo.

Musselman: It fuels the fire, definitely. Learning from my teammates’ experiences here at UCLA makes me want to win for them.

Coming to UCLA as a freshmen, everyone has a desire to win four national championships. Not a lot of people have gotten an opportunity to do that.

It’s amazing to hear the experience people have—winning or losing. That’s why I wanted to come here, obviously was to win all four years. If it doesn’t come down to that it’s Bruin pride and who we get to play for.

You’ll be playing this weekend against Stanford’s Maggie Steffens and Mackenzie Fischer—who you played with for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics. Is there a bond that continues to exists because of that experience?

Musselman: Away from the pool we have this relationship—we spent a year training for one of the hardest experiences ever, the Olympics—that brought us together.

Going our separate ways and representing a different team in the water, it’s super competitive. At the same time that’s what makes it so great. You get to compete against your former teammates; that’s the best competition out there.

Fattal: The second we hit the water it’s game time for us and for them. It doesn’t matter that we played together; it’s: “I’m going to beat you.” That’s the mentality that you have to have coming into these games.

Outside the water, we’ll say “Hi” and I’m sure we’ll mess around a bit. But when you get on deck, the second it’s game time and you’re playing them, it’s do or die. You are with your team, not them.

What is it about these college rivalries? It’s almost more intense than representing your country!

Musselman: SC vs. UCLA is one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports. That’s always a big game to go into, the known rivalries of the schools. Us against Stanford—we lost the national championship to them two years in a row (2014, 2015).

Rivalries are big but when it comes down to it we’re just focusing on ourselves. That’s what we need to do to be successful and that’s what we’ve done the past two weekends and we’ve come out with some pretty big wins.

If we can do that again this weekend we’re going to be fine.

How have your roles on the 2017 UCLA differed from what you were responsible for on Team USA?

Fattal: I not a major leader on the national team [but] I enjoyed my role there as I enjoy my role here. It’s a good growing experience when you have to step up to the plate more [here].

I might not be the captain of the national team and we don’t have captains here but being more of a vocal leader goes back to being able to share the knowledge of the game that I’ve accumulated over the past few years—which is the biggest thing I can bring to my team.

Musselman: Definitely a big change for me. On the national team I obviously wasn’t very vocal. I didn’t step up in big moments and scream and bring the whole group together! I was leading in the water.

Everyone on that team had a role and doing your role is how you led. Coming to this team was different. Rachel’s helped me a lot leading and not being afraid to step up and say something when I have to.

You were a break-out star at the 2016 Rio games and now you’re a leader on the nation’s top women’s water polo team. How has your life been changed by all of this?

Musselman: I didn’t do this on my own and obviously my support system allowed me to achieve the things I did. The advice I gained from my family and friends helped me stay within the system of the national team and not want to quit or give up and that’s a testament to the way I’ve persevered through a lot of things.

Obviously the hard work and dedication shows in the Olympics and my time here at UCLA, but it isn’t just because of me personally but the people I’m surrounded with.

One thing great about UCLA is that in every single game we’ve played no one’s shining over anyone else. Everyone contributes, scoring or making a big block. That’s what makes it so great and fun to be a part of.

You scored half of your team’s goal in a win last week over USC. Is it fair to say that your finding your way at UCLA at the right moment?

Musselman: I’m just playing my role, and it’s my role to be aggressive on offense and defense. I put away the shots I had to put away—because I got great passes from my teammates. It wasn’t all me.

When I had to finish, I did.

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