July 30, 2011
WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
The past, present and future of USA Swimming took turns winning medals Saturday at the XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China.
Colorado teenager Missy Franklin, making her world championship debut at age 16, broke her own American record to win a gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:05.10 at the Oriental Sports Center.
It was her first career individual gold medal at worlds. She led from wire-to-wire and finished ahead of Aussie Belinda Hocking by nearly a full second.
“I’m so happy right now,” said Franklin, nicknamed Missy The Missile. “I just wanted to go out there and have fun. It was my last individual race at my first World Championships and I’m never going to get that opportunity again. I definitely went out there and had a blast, and it was the most exciting race ever.”
Less than an hour later, Franklin came close to breaking the world record with her gold-medal winning teammates on the 400-meter medley relay.
Still smiling after her 2:05.10 performance in the 200-meter backstroke, third fastest time ever, she swam a 52.79 split to win her second gold medal of the day as the U.S. 400-meter medley relay won in 3:52.36 with teammates Natalie Coughlin, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer. Canada’s relay was disqualified for an illegal kick.
“It’s been such an incredible meet,” Franklin said. “Everything was run perfectly, the pool was incredible. The crowd was so energetic and honestly, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’m so thrilled right now. This is my first world championships and I’m just having the time of my life.”
Even Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps’ longtime coach, was impressed with the 6-foot Franklin.
“Missy is awesome,” Bowman said. “I think we’ll remember tonight as when it all started. It reminds me of somebody I know.”
Franklin has been competing with the U.S. team since she was 14. At 13, she competed in the Olympic trials. While she didn’t make the team, she gained valuable experience.
She didn’t set a world record at age 15 like Michael Phelps did, but she is being compared to him. Franklin has already made qualifying times for every event at next year’s Olympic trials. She and her coach, Todd Schmitz, haven’t decided which events she is swimming yet.
“I learned when Missy was 12 that I don’t set the bar, she does,” Schmitz said. “Everyone loves to win but there are few people who hate to lose. Those who hate to lose are typically the Olympians. I don’t think Missy would ever tell you she hates to lose, but she hates to lose.”
Phelps, who also hates to lose, won another gold medal on Saturday when he kept his six-year win streak in tact with a victory in the 100-meter butterfly in 50.71. Poland’s Konrad Czerniak took silver in 51.15 and American Tyler McGill took the bronze in 51.26.
It was Phelps third gold medal and sixth medal overall.
“I thought I was going to be able to be a little faster,” Phelps said. “I don’t think I was out that fast. I think that’s something I need to judge a little bit better. I think I was back OK. I just need to push it going out more. When I broke 50 seconds I was out in 23.3, so I need to be definitely pushing the first 50.”
In the women’s 800-meter freestyle, American Kate Ziegler faded after the first 400 meters to settle for the bronze in 8:23.36. Great Britain’s Rebecca Adlington took the gold in 8:17.51 and Lotte Friis of Denmark took the silver in 8:18.36.
Controversial Brazilian Cesar Cielo won the 50-meter freestyle in 21.52. Italy’s Luca Dotto won silver in 21.90 and Frenchman Alain Bernard took bronze in 21.92. American Nathan Adrian was fourth by 1/100ths of a second.
Dutch swimmer Inge Dekker was a surprise winner in the 50-meter butterfly out-touching defending champion Therese Alshammar of Sweden to win her first world title by 5/100ths of a second. A half stroke to the wall cost Alshammar the gold.
The world championships conclude on Sunday with Ryan Lochte going after his fourth individual gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley. NBC will broadcast some of the race highlights beginning at 1 p.m.
Italy won the gold medal in men’s water polo with an 8-7 victory over Serbia on Saturday.
The teams were tied at 6-6 after regulation.
Italy led 7-6 after the first period on Maurizio Falugo’s bounce goal. Each team scored once in the second period.
In the bronze medal game, Miho Boskovic scored four goals to lead Croatia to a 12-11 victory over Hungary.
Spain defeated the United States, 11-10, for fifth place and Montenegro beat Germany, 8-5 for seventh.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com