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By Zach Cavanagh
McLaughlin Helps USA Earn Silver in Olympic Swim Relay
Dana Point native Katie McLaughlin helped the United States shine in the Olympic pool on Thursday, July 29 in Tokyo.
McLaughlin swam the third leg of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay and set the table for American star Katie Ledecky to propel the team to an American-record time and the Olympic silver medal at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
China won gold with a world-record time of 7 minutes, 40.33 seconds, which was just 0.4 seconds ahead of Team USA’s country-record time of 7:40.73. Australia, which was heavily favored in the event, earned the bronze medal at 7:41.29, which also beat the previous world record. Australia owned the previous record from a swim of 7:41.50 in 2019.
Allison Schmitt swam the opening leg to put the Americans in fourth with a split of 1:56.34, and Paige Madden moved the United States up to third with a split of 1:55.25
McLaughlin, a 24-year-old Santa Margarita Catholic High School graduate and UC Berkeley alumnus, posted a split of 1:55.38 in her third leg to keep Team USA in third, and Ledecky darted through the water for a split of 1:53.76 to pass Australia and nearly make up all the distance on China.
This is the only event for McLaughlin at these Olympics.
Team USA had won gold in this relay in five of the six previous Olympics since it was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games, with a lone bronze in 2008 in Beijing. Now, the Americans have the full medal lineup with this silver for the 2020 Games.
As a youth swimmer, McLaughlin swam for the Mission Viejo Nadadores and Nellie Gail Gators club teams before swimming in high school at JSerra and her alma mater, Santa Margarita. McLaughlin won four consecutive CIF-SS Division 1 titles in the 100-meter butterfly (two at JSerra and two at Santa Margarita) and three consecutive CIF-SS Division 1 titles in the 200-meter freestyle (one at JSerra and two at Santa Margarita). McLaughlin still holds the records in both events for her senior swims in 2015 and set the national high school record in the 100-meter butterfly.
McLaughlin had seemed primed to make her Olympic debut five years earlier than Thursday’s swim, but in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for the Rio Games, McLaughlin suffered a neck injury during a training trip in Hawaii with her college team. McLaughlin still made the Olympic Trial finals in the 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter butterfly in 2016, but she did not qualify.
Beach Volleyball Approved by CIF-Southern Section
Starting in the Spring 2022 season, girls beach volleyball will be a CIF-approved sport, the CIF-Southern Section announced on Tuesday, July 27.
“We are proud to welcome Beach Volleyball this year to the list of CIF-approved sports,” CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod said in his 2021-22 preview message, “and are excited for the growth and development of that sport in the time ahead.”
The next step is for schools to register for the sport in the 2021-22 school year. If 20% of the CIF-SS’ member schools field a team in the sport, the section can hold championships for the sport. Wigod said the goal for the first year of beach volleyball is for CIF-SS to reach the minimum threshold of schools that offer the sport to be able to hold league finals. League finals would be the way to qualify for the CIF-SS playoffs. The first CIF-SS beach volleyball championship would not be held until Spring 2023 at the earliest.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at email@example.com.