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Olympic Gold Medalist Darian Townsend Breaks Masters World Record in 200 IM

Olympic gold medalist Darian Townsend has swum under the FINA Masters World Record, though not the USMS World Record, in the 200 long course meter IM. Swimming at the Silver Fin Summer Classic this weekend in Arizona, Townsend swam a 2:05.65 in the 200 IM.

The 34-year old Townsend is technically racing in the 35-39 age group, because he’ll be 35 before year’s end – the standard for age groups by FINA rules. There is an incongruity in the records for this age group – the United States Masters Swimming Record for the 35-39 age group was set in 2002 by Ronald D. Karnaugh at 2:05.64; however, FINA recognizes the Masters World Record as belonging to D. Oliveira Yabe from Brazil, who swam a 2:07.24 in 2016.

Townsend won an Olympic gold medal in 2004 as part of South Africa’s men’s 400 free relay team. In 2014, however, he announced that he had earned American citizenship and was going to push to represent the United States internationally. He wound up winning 5 medals at the 2014 Short Course World Championships and 2 at the 2015 Pan American Games representing the United States, though he wound up short of qualifying for the 2016 US Olympic Team. He retired from professional swimming in 2017.

He also swam to a 26.98 in the 50 back and a 4:09.32 in the 400 free.

At the same meet, Jeff Commings swam a 29.55 in the men’s 50 breaststroke. For Commings, who turned 45 in February, that swim is faster than the USMS Record of 29.61 that was set just a few weeks ago by Steve West.

Both swimmers hold other National and World Records in Masters swimming. Townsend, specifically, holds 8 FINA World Masters Records in the 30-34 age group, including in the 200 IM: a swim of 2:02.18.

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Chinese EV startup Seres halts US launch, lays off 90 people in Silicon Valley

Seres, the Chinese EV startup formerly known as SF Motors, is laying off 90 people in its Silicon Valley office, the company announced in a staff meeting held earlier today. The US launch of its first electric SUV, the SF5, is also now on hold, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Verge. It had originally planned to make and sell its electric SUVs in both China and the US, with a release slated for later this year.

Around 300 people worked in the Silicon Valley office prior to the layoffs, according to a former employee who was granted anonymity because of a non-disclosure agreement with the company. The layoffs affect multiple parts of the company, including sales, marketing, IT, HR, legal, operations, and design, this person said. A spokesperson for the company could not immediately be reached for comment.

The layoffs come at a time when some of the most high profile Chinese and Chinese-American EV startups are struggling. Faraday Future has lost most of its workforce and partnered with a restructuring firm to bring in new money. NIO, a company which is currently selling cars in China and is publicly traded in the US, recently delayed an upcoming car, and cut dozens of jobs in Silicon Valley and closed an office there after a slow few months of sales. It also had to recall thousands of vehicles due to a fire risk.

Seres is a US brand owned by Chinese commercial automaker Sokon, and its US arm will remain open despite the layoffs, though it will become more independent, managing its own budget and goals, per the meeting. A letter from co-CEO James Taylor that was read at the meeting cited the recent downturn in the Chinese economy, but especially the new car market, as a major reason for the changes. The ongoing trade war with the US was also cited as a reason.

“At a time when Sokon is managing so many dynamic challenges, it is simply too much in the short term to also attempt to launch a new brand and product type in another new market,” Taylor’s letter reads. “With these strategic decisions made, we must now make appropriate adjustments to give the company its best opportunity for both short-term survival and long-term success.”

Seres made some waves as SF Motors when it acquired a startup founded by Martin Eberhard, a co-founder and former CEO Tesla, in 2017, though he has since left the company. It also made headlines when it hired Taylor, who had served as chief marketing officer of Cadillac and CEO of Hummer.

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