Is Zverev a Grand Slam champion in the making?

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev

2018 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website

In Indian Wells as an 18-year-old in March 2016, Alexander Zverev had a straightforward forehand volley to knock out Rafael Nadal and take his place in the quarter-finals.

He buried it in the net, and the chance was gone. “On match point, I sucked,” the German later said.

That was their first meeting. Four subsequent matches have also gone Nadal’s way, but there were five sets in the 2017 Australian Open, and a narrow escape for the Spaniard in Sunday’s Rome Masters final.

Nadal may well have recovered from 3-1 down in the deciding set without the rain delay, but it certainly checked Zverev’s momentum and ended his run of 13 wins in a row.

The now 21-year-old, who is based in Monte Carlo, has gathered an impressive array of trophies in a short period of time. In the past two years, the former junior world number one has won eight titles – including three at Masters level – and been runner-up a further five times.

Zverev, who also answers to the name Sascha, has no significant weaknesses. His backhand is breathtakingly good (which is a big advantage on clay when facing Nadal’s beloved, and heavily spun, crosscourt forehand), and despite being 6ft 6ins tall, is able to move as well as serve well.

But before the French Open, which begins on Sunday, Zverev still needs to prove himself on the Grand Slam stage. He is yet to reach the quarter-final of any Slam and his one appearance in the fourth round ended in defeat by Milos Raonic at Wimbledon last year.

After beating Zverev to the Rome title, Nadal confidently predicted this is just a matter of time.

Alexander Zverev celebrates Madrid win

“It’s impossible to not have a great result in a Grand Slam when you have the level that he has,” the new world number one said.

“It’s just time. If he’s not playing well in Grand Slams during the next two years, you can come back to me and tell me ‘you know nothing about tennis’. But I believe that it is going to be a different story.

“Tennis is tennis. It doesn’t matter – best of three, best of five. Playing best of five is a big advantage for the best players, and Sascha is one of the best players.”

It is hard to argue with Nadal’s prediction, although Zverev’s Grand Slam performances in the past year have not come close to matching his form on the ATP Tour. He lost to Fernando Verdasco in the first round of last year’s French Open, and after that run to the last 16 at Wimbledon, was beaten by Borna Coric in the second round of the US Open.

After losing the deciding set of his third-round match 6-0 to eventual semi-finalist Hyeon Chung at January’s Australian Open, Zverev said the problem was not physical, but hinted it could be mental.

What should be remembered, though, is that the German only turned 21 last month. The French Open will be just the 12th time he has played in a Grand Slam main draw. By means of comparison, Roger Federer’s first Slam title, at Wimbledon 2003, came at his 17th attempt. And Federer was about the age then that Zverev will be at the 2019 Australian Open.

“I try to play the same way, play the same way over a longer period of time,” Zverev said, as he looked ahead to Roland Garros after the Rome final.

“For me, it will be match by match there. And hopefully I’ll be able to play the same kind of tennis like I did in the last three weeks. We’ll see. The next few days, I will not even think about tennis. And then I’ll go to Paris and do my best to prepare and try to compete for the French Open.

“Of course, Rafa will be the favourite there, there’s no question about it. I’ll be in the other half of the draw. So, that’s a good thing,” he said, with a smile.

Alexander Zverev factfile
Born: 20 April 1997 in Hamburg, Germany
Turned pro: 2013
Grand Slam appearances: 11
Best Grand Slam performance: Fourth round, Wimbledon 2017
ATP Tour titles: Eight
ATP Tour finals: 13
Career prize money: £7.73m
2018 prize money: £2.44m

Zverev will arrive in Paris as the world number three, and in the absence of Federer, as the second seed. He knows he will be under the spotlight. He can be prickly and blunt with the media, but he can also be brutally honest.

“Nerves got the better of me. I choked,” he said, after losing a decisive round-robin match to Jack Sock at the ATP Finals in London last November.

Zverev has been seeped in tennis for all of his life. His parents, Alexander and Irina, are former professionals, and dad still coaches him to this day. His brother Mischa, nearly 10 years his senior, reached the last eight of the 2017 Australian Open after a stunning win over then world number one Andy Murray.

Sascha has been a regular by the side of the court from a toddler as the family travelled with Mischa on the junior tour. He thinks he first had a knock-up with Murray and Novak Djokovic at the age of just three.

The man, with the world at his feet, has been a long time in the making.

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Mitch Dansky Named Assistant Coach for Notre Dame Swimming & Diving

Photo Courtesy: Mike Miller/Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame swimming and diving head coach Mike Litzinger has officially named Mitch Dansky as the newest assistant coach on the Irish swimming and diving staff. A six-year collegiate coaching veteran who has spent the past five years at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Dansky arrives at Notre Dame following the departure of assistant coach and meet director Joe Spahn, who assumed the head coaching role at Pepperdine in April.

“I am thrilled to welcome Mitch and his wife, Mary, to our Notre Dame swimming and diving family,” Litzinger said. “Mitch is an accomplished coach with a great deck presence. Not only will he mesh well with our outstanding staff, but I am looking forward to the energy he will bring as we continue to pursue excellence in the ACC and at the NCAA level.”

“I would like to thank Mike Litzinger, his incredible staff, Juli Schreiber, Jack Swarbrick, Father (John) Jenkins and his office for this amazing opportunity,” Dansky said. “It was important to me that the place I coached offered athletics and academics at the highest levels. Notre Dame is one of the few universities in the country that can offer both. Notre Dame has a rich history of success, and I cannot wait to help these athletes reach their goals in the sport and in life. Mike’s vision for this program is amazing, and I am looking forward to helping the program reach the top of the ACC and the NCAA.”

Dansky began his coaching tenure at SMU in August of 2013, and worked as a men’s swimming assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Mustangs over the last five seasons. Dansky mentored distance, middle distance and sprint competitors in the water, along with serving as the program’s academic liaison with the Athlete Learning Enhancement Center (ALEC) in addition to his recruiting duties. Athletes who competed under Dansky’s tutelage at SMU earned 30 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship event victories, established seven conference records, claimed four combined conference Most Valuable Swimmer honors, notched five school records and made one swimming appearance at the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships.

Outside of collegiate competition, Dansky represented SMU as an assistant coach at the 2017 USA Swimming Southern Zone Diversity Select Camp. During his time in Dallas, he also served as the director of the Mustang Swim Camp program from 2013-18.

Prior to arriving at SMU, Dansky spent the 2012-13 season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the men’s swimming team at the University of Connecticut. He specialized in the development of the Huskies sprint swimmers, and was responsible for organizing all dryland training for the team in addition to his recruiting coordinator duties. UConn racked up 18 school records during the 2012-13 campaign with Dansky on staff. Dansky spent time as an assistant coach for the UConn university aquatic club during his initial collegiate coaching stop in Storrs.

Dansky was a four-year distance swimmer at UConn from 2008-12, specializing in the 500 and 1650 freestyle events. He was named team captain as a senior during the 2011-12 season, and was a finalist at the BIG EAST Championship in each of his four seasons swimming the 1650 free. Dansky graduated with top-10 times in the UConn record book in the 500 free, 1650 free and 400 IM events, and was a member of the UConn Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Dansky graduated from UConn in May of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, with a minor in political science. He earned a Master of Liberal Studies degree from SMU in May of 2017, with a concentration in organizational dynamics. Dansky is officially certified by USA Swimming.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Notre Dame Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@ SwimmingWorld.com.

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Five things to look out for in the third week of the Giro d’Italia

What to look out for in a big third week of the Giro d’Italia

Will Dumoulin reclaim pink on the time trial?

Tom Dumoulin on stage one of the 2018 Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

Arguably the most talked about stage of this year’s Giro is the stage 16 time trial. Barely a day has gone by in which it has not been referenced as a potential game changer in the GC, and we will likely have a much clearer picture of who will win the Giro once it has been completed.

The reason for that is the significant disparity in ability against the clock between the two riders now firmly established as contenders for the pink jersey, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

>>> How much time will Tom Dumoulin take on Simon Yates in the Giro d’Italia time trial?

Yates is a lightweight climber whose main aim in time trials is to avoid losing too much time, while Dumoulin is world champion in the discipline whose race strategy depends upon using them to gain heaps of time.

To reclaim the maglia rosa, Dumoulin needs to put 2-11 into Yates, an amount that historical performances might suggest he has about a 50 per cent chance of gaining. But Yates is in the form of his life, and his seventh place finish in the opening day time trial suggests he has improved against the clock too.

Even if Dumoulin does end tomorrow in the pink jersey, to be confident of retaining it during the final mountain stages to come he will want to have a lead of more than just a handful of seconds. Still, a handover of overall leadership with just five stages left to ride would set up a tense finale.

Will Yates falter?

Simon Yates attacks on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

Simon Yates has been imperious throughout the Giro, and showed no signs of tiring yesterday when he romped to his most significant stage win yet.

His lack of Grand Tour experience means that doubts remain about how he will perform in the final week, however. Will he pay for the aggressive way he has approached this Giro? Stages 19 and 20 are so difficult that even a slight dip in form could be enough for him to lose the race.

For an example of a rider unused to challenging for GC faltering at the end, we need only look back to the 2016 Giro d’Italia. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) had similarly established himself as the strongest rider in the race and held an even firmer grip on the pink jersey, only to fall off the podium altogether after crashing with just three days to go.

Yates remains the man most likely, and even his closest rival Dumoulin said that ‘something crazy has to happen’ for him to win this race. But a final week collapse is still a possibility, and would dramatically open up the race for the maglia rosa.

The battle for podium placings

Thibaut Pinot on stage 15 of the 2018 Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

The way Yates was able to ride away on stage 15 while his rivals mostly worried about each other was a clear sign that some were switching their focus towards striving for a podium finish rather than overall victory.

Currently Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) holds the coveted third place spot, for whom finishing on the podium would be a huge deal having never finished higher than fifth in his previous eleven Giro appearances.

A podium finish for his closest rival Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) – who is just nine seconds adrift – would not be quite so long-awaited, but would see the Frenchman at last match his breakthrough third-place finish at the 2014 Tour de France.

A top three finish also remains a possibility for Chris Froome (Sky), if he can make the most of Tuesday’s time trial, and can rediscover the form that saw him win on the Zoncolan.

The South American duo of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Richard Carapaz (Movistar) both have outside chances, currently lying at 1-59 and 2-19 behind Pozzovivo respectively, but may be more focussed on winning the young riders classification against each other.

Breakaways to succeed

Giro d’Italia 2018 stage 10 (Sunada)

Two weeks into the race and breakaways continue to have an unusually low success rate.

Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) remains the only rider to win a stage from a break to get away at the start of the day, although Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) was successful from an attack 40km from the finish on stage 10.

The third week should provide some better opportunities for early breaks to succeed, however.

Stage 17 looks perfect for a breakaway, starting as it does with 10km of uphill and continuing to undulate for much of the rest of the day. This looks the best chance for any underdogs to give themselves a shot at glory by getting into the break.

And now there are so many talented climbers far enough down on GC to be given freedom to get up the road, the Colle delle Finestre on stage 19 (the Cima Coppi, i.e. highest summit of the race) and the two category one climbs that precede the summit finish to Cervinia on stage 20, look like perfect launchpads for stage winning attacks from early escapees.

Viviani and Bennett go head-to-head for the maglia ciclamino

Elia Viviani in the maglia ciclamino at the 2018 Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

The final week will mostly be all about climbing, with summit finishes awaiting the riders of stages 18, 19 and 20, but there is still time for Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) to challenge Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) for victory in the points classification.

Viviani’s current lead of 40 points is enough to that he may well need only finish somewhere near the front on the one remaining guaranteed sprint stage in Rome on the final day of the race.

However, there’s also a chance to win points on stage 17, which could potentially culminate in a bunch sprint – perhaps from a reduced group. The parcours is similar to stage 12, when Bennett took maximum points by winning the sprint, and Viviani earned nothing having been dropped.

If Bora-Hansgrohe can pull off something similar, by putting Viviani under pressure on the rolling terrain and making sure the break does not succeed, and thus giving Bennett a chance to bring his Italian rival back to within touching distance in the competition, then the final stage to Rome could be a thrilling showdown for the jersey.

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NC State Adds Mark Bernardino To Staff As Associate Head Coach

Photo Courtesy: NC State Swimming and Diving

NC State swimming & diving head coach Braden Holloway bolstered his staff on Monday with the addition of 31-time ACC Coach of the Year and 2018 International Swim Coach’s Association Hall of Fame inductee Mark Bernardino.

“I am excited that Mark will be joining the Wolfpack,” said head coach Braden Holloway. “He brings passion, energy and knowledge that can not only elevate our current student-athletes, but also our staff as well. Mark is one of the best coaches to walk the pool deck, both in college and for USA swimming. His desire to develop and teach is constant, contagious and runs deeper than ever. As we continue our drive to win NCAA titles, Mark can help us reach that next level we are looking to attain.”

A longtime member of the USA National Team staff, most recently from 2010-2014, Bernardino comes to NC State following four seasons as associate head coach at South Carolina. Prior to that he served as head coach at Virginia from 1978-2013.

During his tenure at UVA the Cavaliers captured 27 ACC Championships; the men’s program became the first in ACC history to win the ACC Championship 16 times while its women became the first program in ACC history to win it 11 times. His 510 career victories rank fifth all-time in NCAA swimming while he coached four NCAA individual champion swimmers, six NCAA relay titles, three NCAA record performances, one NCAA Swimmer of the Championship meet and 13 Olympians.

“I am honored and excited to join the NC State University Swimming and Diving Family,” said Bernardino. “I would like to thank Coach Braden Holloway, his staff and swimmers, Athletic Director Dr. Debbie Yow and Associate Athletic Director Michelle Lee for their trust in me, and for this opportunity.

“Coach Holloway and his staff have overseen the most remarkable turn-around ever witnessed in the sport of swimming. They are primed and ready to contend for national championships and I am energized and enthused at the prospect of helping them attain their goals. I am keenly aware of the storied history of this Swimming and Diving program and I will work to my fullest capacity to help the Wolfpack reach higher milestones in the years ahead. There is something very special that fuels the minds, hearts and bodies of these swimmers and this staff and I look forward to pursuing their goals beside them.”

Bernardino has coached one Olympic silver medalist, one world and American holder, 102 First-Team NCAA All-American swimmers, 127 All-American relays, 26 ACC Swimmer of the Year Awards (18 swimmers) including 11 men and seven women, 16 ACC Freshman of the Year Awards (nine men, seven women), 164 male individual ACC titles, 118 female individual ACC titles, 50 male ACC relay titles and 52 female ACC relay titles and six male individual SEC titles.

Bernardino’s 31 ACC Swimming Coach of the Year awards, including 18 on the men’s side and 13 on the women’s, are the most earned in ACC Swimming history. The Cavaliers were also among the best performing programs at the NCAA Championships under his tutelage as they earned the second-most top-ten finishes at the NCAA Championships of any program in ACC history. The men and women each earned four top-ten finishes, highlighting a combined 46 finishes inside the top-25.

Throughout his time at South Carolina the Gamecocks became a mainstay at the NCAA Championships. The Gamecock men finished 15thin 2018 while the men and women earned three and one 16th-20thplaces finishes respectively.

Along with his success at the college level, Bernardino also has extensive experience at the international level. He served as head coach of the USA World University Games team in 2009 and 2011, assistant coach of the USA Pan-American Games team in 2011, assistant coach of the USA National Junior Team in 2000 and head coach of the East Team at the USA Olympic Festival in 1993. He also served as head coach of the Ecuadorian National Team from 2015-17.

His impact went beyond the pool as at Virginia the women’s teams was a CSCAA All-Scholastic Academic for 19 consecutive years while the men’s team earned the honor 13 years in a 19 year span. He coached four CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, 19 ACC Post-Graduate Scholarship winners and 13 ACC Scholar Athlete of the year winners.

Bernardino also served as president of the CSCAA from 2010-2012 and on the CSCAA executive board from 2010-2014.

He joins an NC State program in the midst of a remarkable stretch of success, and in search of more with his addition. After winning its fourth straight ACC Championship on the men’s side and finishing third at the ACC Championships on the women’s, NC State wrapped up the 2017-18 season with a fourth-place finish nationally and five NCAA titles on the men’s side and an 18th-place finish on the women’s, the fifth-straight year it has finished inside the top-20.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with NC State Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@ SwimmingWorld.com.

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NC State Adds Mark Bernardino To Staff

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NC State swimming & diving head coach Braden Holloway bolstered his staff on Monday with the addition of 31-time ACC Coach of the Year and 2018 International Swim Coach’s Association Hall of Fame inductee Mark Bernardino.

“I am excited that Mark will be joining the Wolfpack,” said head coach Braden Holloway. “He brings passion, energy and knowledge that can not only elevate our current student-athletes, but also our staff as well. Mark is one of the best coaches to walk the pool deck, both in college and for USA swimming. His desire to develop and teach is constant, contagious and runs deeper than ever. As we continue our drive to win NCAA titles, Mark can help us reach that next level we are looking to attain.”

A longtime member of the USA National Team staff, most recently from 2010-2014, Bernardino comes to NC State following four seasons as associate head coach at South Carolina. Prior to that he served as head coach at Virginia from 1978-2013.

During his tenure at UVA the Cavaliers captured 27 ACC Championships; the men’s program became the first in ACC history to win the ACC Championship 16 times while its women became the first program in ACC history to win it 11 times. His 510 career victories rank fifth all-time in NCAA swimming while he coached four NCAA individual champion swimmers, six NCAA relay titles, three NCAA record performances, one NCAA Swimmer of the Championship meet and 13 Olympians.

“I am honored and excited to join the NC State University Swimming and Diving Family,” said Bernardino. “I would like to thank Coach Braden Holloway, his staff and swimmers, Athletic Director Dr. Debbie Yow and Associate Athletic Director Michelle Lee for their trust in me, and for this opportunity.

“Coach Holloway and his staff have overseen the most remarkable turn-around ever witnessed in the sport of swimming. They are primed and ready to contend for national championships and I am energized and enthused at the prospect of helping them attain their goals. I am keenly aware of the storied history of this Swimming and Diving program and I will work to my fullest capacity to help the Wolfpack reach higher milestones in the years ahead. There is something very special that fuels the minds, hearts and bodies of these swimmers and this staff and I look forward to pursuing their goals beside them.”

Bernardino has coached one Olympic silver medalist, one world and American holder, 102 First-Team NCAA All-American swimmers, 127 All-American relays, 26 ACC Swimmer of the Year Awards (18 swimmers) including 11 men and seven women, 16 ACC Freshman of the Year Awards (nine men, seven women), 164 male individual ACC titles, 118 female individual ACC titles, 50 male ACC relay titles and 52 female ACC relay titles and six male individual SEC titles.

Bernardino’s 31 ACC Swimming Coach of the Year awards, including 18 on the men’s side and 13 on the women’s, are the most earned in ACC Swimming history. The Cavaliers were also among the best performing programs at the NCAA Championships under his tutelage as they earned the second-most top-ten finishes at the NCAA Championships of any program in ACC history. The men and women each earned four top-ten finishes, highlighting a combined 46 finishes inside the top-25.

Throughout his time at South Carolina the Gamecocks became a mainstay at the NCAA Championships. The Gamecock men finished 15thin 2018 while the men and women earned three and one 16th-20thplaces finishes respectively.

Along with his success at the college level, Bernardino also has extensive experience at the international level. He served as head coach of the USA World University Games team in 2009 and 2011, assistant coach of the USA Pan-American Games team in 2011, assistant coach of the USA National Junior Team in 2000 and head coach of the East Team at the USA Olympic Festival in 1993. He also served as head coach of the Ecuadorian National Team from 2015-17.

His impact went beyond the pool as at Virginia the women’s teams was a CSCAA All-Scholastic Academic for 19 consecutive years while the men’s team earned the honor 13 years in a 19 year span. He coached four CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, 19 ACC Post-Graduate Scholarship winners and 13 ACC Scholar Athlete of the year winners.

Bernardino also served as president of the CSCAA from 2010-2012 and on the CSCAA executive board from 2010-2014.

He joins an NC State program in the midst of a remarkable stretch of success, and in search of more with his addition. After winning its fourth straight ACC Championship on the men’s side and finishing third at the ACC Championships on the women’s, NC State wrapped up the 2017-18 season with a fourth-place finish nationally and five NCAA titles on the men’s side and an 18th-place finish on the women’s, the fifth-straight year it has finished inside the top-20.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with NC State Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@ SwimmingWorld.com.

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The Week That Was: Ledecky Smashes Records In First Meet As Pro

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

This was a huge week of competitions across the United States as national and international swimmers continue to prepare for this summer’s big long course meets. Check out a recap of all the records that were broken along with the biggest stories of the week below in the week that was!

The Week That Was #5 – Brazilian Olympian Henrique Martins Tests Positive

henrique-martins-santa-clara-2015 (1)

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

It was revealed this week that Brazilian Olympian Henrique Martins tested positive for a banned substance on WADA’s list of prohibited substances. The result came from a surprise doping test on March 27th, which will give Martins an opportunity to present his case in front of a FINA doping panel in Switzerland. Martins has already hired Marcelo Franklin as his lawyer. Franklin has previously defended Cesar Cielo, Joao Gomes, and Etienne Medeiros. Martins was a member of Brazil’s 2016 Olympic Team and competed at last summer’s World Championships as part of Brazil’s medley relays and in the sprint free and fly events.

The Week That Was #4 – USA Diving Nationals Underway Without Olympic Champ Boudia

David Boudia, London 2012 – Photo Courtesy: Toni L. Sandys

The 2018 USA Diving National Championships were underway this week without one of Team USA’s biggest names. David Boudia revealed on his Instagram account earlier this week that he will be taking a break from diving following a recent concussion, effectively removing him from this week’s nationals and from having a chance at a spot on Team USA’s World Cup Roster. The final World Cup roster for the United States was announced at the conclusion of the competition, with Olympians Katrina Young and Steele Johnson among those earning spots on the roster. You can see full recaps from each day of USA Diving Nationals here.

The Week That Was #3 – Tim Hinchey Among CEOs To Testify On Sexual Abuse

tim-hinchey-2018-mesa-pss

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Tim Hinchey, the CEO of USA Swimming, is set to testify before a House subcommittee on sexual abuse in Olympic sports. He is one of several sports executives who is scheduled to appear, including the CEO’s of U.S. Gymnastics, the USOC, USA Taekwondo, and the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. The hearing is coming on the heels of many U.S. gymnasts coming forward about the sexual abuse from Team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and while the spotlight has been on USA Gymnastics there has been plenty of recent scrutiny on the policies of USA Swimming and how they have handled allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. USA Swimming previously came under fire in 2010 for how the organization handled sexual abuse scandals, which led the USOC to create the Center for SafeSport.

The Week That Was #2 – Andrew, Lochte, And Dressel Highlight 2018 Atlanta Classic

michael-andrew-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

One of the two big meets this weekend was the 2018 Atlanta Classic down in Georgia, with several big names throwing down some impressive swims and some Olympians making their long course debut for the season. Michael Andrew broke a pair of records over the weekend, with two huge swims in the 100 breaststroke (59.98) and 50 free (21.73). That 50 free time was Andrew’s PB and broke Nathan Adrian’s record from 2016. Caeleb Dressel was clearly racing tired but still put together two wins on the final night of the meet in the 200 IM (2:01.98) and 100 free (49.65). Other notable swims included Micah Sumrall with a meet record in the 200 breast (2:26.16) and Molly Hannis’ meet record in the 100 breast (1:07.25). You can see all the recaps and results from the 2018 Atlanta Classic by heading over to our meet page.

The Week That Was #1 – Ledecky Smashes World Record To Start Indy Pro Series

katie-ledecky-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

All eyes were on Katie Ledecky this weekend as she went on an in-season record-breaking spree like only Katie Ledecky can do. In her first meet as a pro swimmer Ledecky started things off with a bang, casually dropping her own world record in the 1500 free by 5 seconds to nearly become the first woman under 15:20 when she touched the wall in 15:20.46. That moved her to the fastest in history by a staggering 18 seconds and gives her 9 of the top 10 performances in history. She also recorded the second-fastest 400 free in history, the third-fastest 800 free in history, and a dominant win in the 200 free. There were plenty of other fast swims this weekend, including Lilly King swimming the fastest 100 breast in the world (1:05.90), Melanie Margalis blasting a new best time in the 400 IM (4:36.81), and Daniel Roy becoming the youngest American ever under 2:10 in the 200 breast. You can see full recaps of each session on our meet page.

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Amy meters bags Boels -Dolmans first Basque win at Emakumeen Bira

Dutch woman takes breakaway success in penultimate stage

Boels-Dolmans took their first victory of the Emakumeen Bira, Amy Pieters winning from an 11 woman breakaway in Aretxabaleta today. The Dutch rider out sprinted Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle-High5)  and German rider Clara Koppenburg (Cervélo-Bigla) after a wet stage in the Basque mountains.

The result caused a shake up in the general classification going into tomorrow’s final, queen stage, with New Zealand champion Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-Scott), at one stage the virtual leader on the road, moving into second place behind team mate Annemiek van Vleuten.

Williams had been the virtual leader on the raid, however, in the closing kilometres the bunch managed to close a four minute gap, finishing the day just over two minutes down.  

How it happened 

With thunder echoing around the rain sodden valleys, the race began at high speed as the leader’s teams ensured they were able to contest the first bonus sprint after 27.5 of the 114.5km stage. Second overall at the start of the day, Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) bagged the three seconds bonus there, closing the gap to 12 seconds on van Vleuten, who scored only one extra second.

On the first of three classified climbs, and it’s narrow dangerous descent, the peloton began to be eroded, with only about 20 riders surviving to contest the second ascent less than 10km later.

With the the ensuing descent out of the way, and with just 44km of the 114.5km remaining, a group of ten riders broke clear of the peloton, after the final bonus sprint in the start and finish town of Aretxabaleta.

Paulina Rooijakkers, Anouska Koster (both Waowdeals), Emelia Fahlin (Wiggle-High5), Ana Santesteban, Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans), Alicia González (Movistar), Maria Novolodskaya (Cogeas-Mettler), Clara Kopenburg (Cervélo-Bigla), Demi De Jong (Lotto-Soudal) and Williams, the latter the best placed on general classification.

With so many teams represented, the bunch instantly sat up and the gap went out to four minutes, though as it did so Rooijakkers, the second best placed of the break, attacked, soon gaining a lead of 30 seconds.

With the final classified climb dealt with, the Dutch rider’s lead went out to 50 seconds, as the now passive peloton’s deficit extended to over four minutes.

Rooijakkers was able to cope well with the final classified climb and the subsequent, steeper undulations, but was could not deal with the descents, and was finally caught with just four kilometres to go.

Tomorrow will likely see more action in what is the 120km, queen stage. Starting and finishing in Iurreta, like the other days it features three classified climbs, though the only first category ascent of the week, is likely to be decisive. 

Six kilometres at an average of 9%, the climb to Urkiola will see fireworks as the likes of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) and van der Breggen try to make up the slim deficit on van Vleuten’s lead.

Emakumeen Bira Stage three Aretxabaleta – Aretxabaleta (114.5km) – Result

  1. 1. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in 3-02-00
  1. 2. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Wiggle-High5
  1. 3. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervélo-Bigla)
  1. 4. Ane Santesteban (Esp)
  1. 5. Mariia Novolodskaya (Rus)
  1. 6. Alicia González (Esp)
  1. 7. Demi De Jong (Ned) Lotto Soudal all at same time
  1. 8. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Waowdeals at 04s
  1. 9. Georgia Williams (NZ) Mitchelton-Scott at same time
  1. 10. Anouska Koster (Ned) Waowdeals at 1.01

Emakumeen Bira general classification after Stage three
1.Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott in 6-29-38
2.Georgia Williams (NZ) Mitchlto-Scott at 03s
3. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 12s
4. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervélo-Bigla at 27s
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 42s
6. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Wiggle-High5 at same time
7. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Waowdeals at 48s
8. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla at 53
9. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM at 1.32
10. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 1.37

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Tom Dumoulin: ‘Something remarkable has to happen for me to win the Giro d’Italia’

Dumoulin says he doesn’t expect to reclaim the lead from Simon Yates on the 34.2km time trial on stage 16

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) needs something “quire remarkable” for a second consecutive Giro d’Italia win with such a dominant Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) in the 2018 lead.

Dumoulin gained time on his rival in the stage one time trial in Jerusalem, but lost time on every other occasion. He is riding consistently, but not as well as Yates in the mountains.

>>> How much time will Tom Dumoulin take on Simon Yates in the Giro d’Italia time trial?

His hope is in the time trial to Rovereto, stage 16, where he could possibly gain over two minutes and recover from his 2-11-minute deficit and to take the race leader’s pink jersey.

“The Giro is not decided until Rome, anything can happen,” Dumoulin said on the last rest day. “It would be quite remarkable how the situation is now that I would take the pink jersey to Rome, but stranger things have happened in the past in the third week of a Grand Tour. I am keeping my hopes up.”

Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia in 2017 with dominant time trial rides and strong mountain performances. This year, a more mountainous Giro d’Italia route and a remarkable Yates leave Dumoulin looking for answers.

Simon Yates attacks on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

“Anyway to crack him? No!” Dumoulin said with a laugh. “So far I don’t see a way, he’s been riding really well, tactically and didn’t make any mistakes so far, he’s been in excellent shape.

“All kind of tactics stuff you can do, but I still have to drop him first, I don’t know where to do that in the moment. I am just waiting, waiting, waiting, just hoping the moment comes, if the moment arrives, I will certainly take it.”

Dumoulin’s problem is that even if he takes the stage win and the race lead in the time trial, he faces three more mountain days. And so far, Yates has taken seconds and minutes out of Dumoulin when the road goes upwards.

“The Pratonevoso summit finish on Thursday is a stage that suits me better, more so than a stage with five mountains. Instead, just one time with maximum output, but how Yates is riding now, I don’t have the advantage on him on the climbs.”

Dumoulin won the opening time trial in his rainbow jersey that he took at the time trial World Championship title in 2017. He trained on the stage 16 parcours on the rest day, noting everything that will be needed to win and take maximum time on Yates.

“Any TT I like. It’s super fast and flat, not 100 per cent how I like, but I am happy with any TT,” he continued.

“If you go in the TT position with tailwind like we had today in the recon, then there is a limit to how much faster you can go – time differences will not be big. But he would have to do a bad TT to lose his jersey to me.”

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Ariana Kukors Files Civil Suit Against Sean Hutchison, USA Swimming, Mark Schubert

Ariana Kukors. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Dan D’Addona.

In February, 2012 Olympian Ariana Kukors came forward with accusations that her former coach had sexually abused her for years.

The accusations moved into the legal realm on Monday.

Kukors filed a civil suit in Orange County Superior Court against her former coach Sean Hutchison, USA Swimming, including Mark Schubert, former U.S. national team director as well as Aquatic Management Group Inc, a company owned by Hutchison and King Aquatic Club, Hutchison’s former Seattle-area club.

The complaint for damages in the suit includes sexual abuse of a minor, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the suit. It also alleges that USA Swimming knew about the sexual relationship between Hutchison and Kukors when Kukors was just 16.   

The suit, first reported by the Orange County Register, is the latest development in a case that has been at the forefront of sexual abuse issues in the sport of swimming.

The Register spearheaded an investigation of USA Swimming that showed that top USA Swimming personnel were aware of sexually predatory coaches of years, but took no action.

Hutchison has repeatedly denied allegations of abuse, insisting their relationship was consensual and happened after Kukors was an adult.

“At no time did I ever abuse Ariana Kukors or do anything with her that was not consensual,” Hutchison said in a statement. “I absolutely deny having any sexual or romantic relationship with her before she was old enough to legally make those decisions for herself. Prior to that time, I did nothing to ‘groom’ her.

“After the 2012 Olympics we were in a committed relationship and Ariana lived at my residence in Seattle for more than a year. Her younger sister also lived with us for several months and her mother was a regular visitor to our home. I deeply regret that she would make these wild allegations all these years later.”

Kukors rebutted that denial in a long social media post.

First, Kukors explained how she began swimming with Hutchison when she was 13, how he initiated the process of “grooming” her for a relationship when he insisted that all swimmers shake hands with him after practice and how he developed personal relationships with his athletes. The two began texting when a 15-year-old Kukors got her first cell phone.

Kukors vividly described an incident when, in her mind, Hutchison first acted inappropriately. After practice one day, she wrote, the coach inquired about her undergarments, and that progressed to incidents of kissing and touching when Kukors was still underage.

Schubert was made aware of the rumored situation and said he brought those rumors to the CEO of Fullerton Area Swim Team (FAST), Bill Jewell, immediately.

“I heard the rumor in October of 2010 and passed it on to Bill Jewell who was the head coach at FAST,” Schubert said. “Bill asked me if I knew a private investigator and I did and Bill hired him. It was pretty shocking. I felt like I knew him pretty well. I had served on a number of national teams with him. I was just shocked. He was a very fine coach. Popular. Up and coming. I was really surprised.”

The investigation only found an instance of the cars of Hutchison and Kukors being parked next to each other at 5.a.m. in front of Hutchison’s condo, Schubert said.

A Washington Post article brought a little more to light, Schubert said.

“Well after all of this came to light in the Washington Post article. One of the swimmers of the national team (later) said they saw him come out of her room at 2 a.m., in 2009,” Schubert said.

USA Swimming investigated the rumors in 2010. Hutchinson and Kukors both denied they were having a sexual relationship, something that would be against USA swimming policy. Kukors has since said on her website that she was lying then.

Schubert has said to multiple news outlets that USA Swimming failed miserably in this case where they supposedly thoroughly investigated Hutchinson in late 2010 and exonerated him. The suit claims that Schubert and others did not properly report knowledge of the issue.

Despite reporting the rumors, Schubert said he would have handled the situation differently if he could do it over again.

“We are all a lot more educated in this subject,” he said. “I would have alerted the police to the situation with the rumors. Back then, you felt like you weren’t sure what to say. it is obvious from (Ariana’s) comments that she wishes someone would have said something even if she didn’t say something.”

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