Latter-day Saints in the Olympics, day 3: Swimming, volleyball and more on gymnastics

In the third day of official Olympic competition, two athletes with connections to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints competed in the water and the hardwood. Plus, more on gymnast MyKayla Skinner’s experience at the Olympics.  

Swimming  

Rhyan Elizabeth White, 21, is going to the medal race in the 100-meter breaststroke after qualifying in the semifinals on Monday, July 26.  The top eight swimmers — four from each of the two heats — qualified for the finals. White, a Utah native who swims for the University of Alabama, was second in her heat and fourth overall with a time of 58.09 seconds.  

The 100-meter backstroke final is Tuesday, July 27.  

Volleyball 

Team USA, including outside hitter Taylor Sander, faced the team from Russia on Monday, July 26, in the preliminary pool play. It’s the best three of five sets and Team USA lost 3-1, with scores of 25-23, 27-25, 21-25 and 25-23.  

Their next match is Wednesday, July 28, against Argentina. 

The volleyball teams are divided in groups or pools and play each member of the pool. Teams with the most wins in the pool games advance to the elimination rounds. 

Read more: Meet the Latter-day Saint Olympians competing in Tokyo

Around the web  

Mykayla Skinner, of the United States, performs on the uneven bars during the women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo.
Mykayla Skinner, of the United States, performs on the uneven bars during the women’s artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo. Credit: Natacha Pisarenko, Associated Press
  • Gymnast MyKayla Skinner’s experience competing as an individual in the Olympics for Team USA is catching the attention of several publications. All gymnasts, competing individually or as a team, participate in the qualifying round and the top eight on each apparatus, with a two-per-country limit, move to the finals. On the all-around, the top 24 gymnasts, with the two-per-country limit, move to the finals.  

Skinner came in fourth overall on the vault but was behind two others representing Team USA. On the all-around, she was 11th but behind three others from Team USA. This ended her Olympic competition.  

She tweeted “Heart broken” with a breaking heart emoji, adding “but feeling sooo humbled and blessed for the amazing performance I had tonight!” 

Teammate Simone Biles tweeted that she is “so incredibly proud” of Skinner.  

ESPN.com analyzed Skinner’s experience, including the two-per-country rule, in “MyKayla Skinner’s Olympic gymnastics did not have to happen this way.”  

In an interview with NBC’s Today show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, Skinner said she “had the meet of my life and gave it my all.” 

She also shared her gratitude for her Olympic experience.  

“Even just to be there and to compete finally after all these years and everything that I’ve been through and all the trials, and just to persevere and get to where I am has been incredible,” Skinner said. “So, I’m just so grateful. And I’m an Olympian so no one can take that away from me.” 

United States' Taylor Sander spikes the ball during the men's volleyball preliminary round pool B match between United States and Russian Olympic Committee at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
United States’ Taylor Sander spikes the ball during the men’s volleyball preliminary round pool B match between United States and Russian Olympic Committee at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Manu Fernandez, Associated Press
  • Sander was one of the men on Team USA’s volleyball team who has become a father since the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Brigham Young University alumnus and his teammates were in the Associated Press feature “Dad’s club leads to bonding for US men’s volleyball team.” He and his wife, Rachel, have a son who was born in 2018. 
  • Alexis “Lexi” Lagan, 28, a University of Utah alumna, was featured this weekend by KSL in advance of her competition in the 10-meter air pistol qualifications.  

“I never thought about going to the Olympics in any discipline, let alone in shooting, and the University of Utah was kind of my gateway to that,” she said.

Read more of Church News’ coverage of athletes connected to the Church competing in the Olympics