Olympics: Franklin qualifies second in 100 back, eyes gold

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LONDON | Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old American competing in her first Olympics, was second-quickest in the 100 meter backstroke Sunday, posting a time of 59.37 seconds.

Franklin earned a bronze medal as part of the U.S. 4×100 freestyle relay on the first night of swimming Saturday, but was still nervous for her first individual event.

“Oh, my gosh. You can’t take any chances here,” Franklin said. “You have to get out there and do the best that you can. I know I can do faster than I did in prelims.”

Franklin, a senior-to-be at Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School, is set to swim seven events in London.

Emily Seebohm of Australia qualified fastest in the event with an Olympic-record time of 58.23 seconds. She lowered the old mark of 58.77 set by Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe four years ago in Beijing.

“I saw that I was ahead of the world record and I was just like, ‘Don’t get over your head. Just keep going and just go as hard as you can,'” Seebohm said. “All I wanted to do this morning was to make it through. My goal was just to keep moving forward and now maybe the world record in the final, who knows?”

Belinda Hocking of Australia was third in 59.61.

Ten of the 16 women qualifying for the evening semifinals swam under 1 minute.

Rachel Bootsma, the other American teenager in the event, was 11th.

Coventry, the silver medalist in the last two Olympics, barely advanced, grabbing the next-to-last spot in 1:00.24.

“I’ve been up and down coming into the competition with my knee and then pneumonia, so I’m just excited to be here,” Coventry said. “I’m just enjoying my fourth Olympics and I’ll see what I can do.”

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