Olympics: Franklin sets world record, takes third gold of Games in 200 backstroke

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Missy Franklin dominated the final of the 200 meter backstroke at the Olympics on Friday, setting a world record and claiming her third gold medal of the Games.

Franklin, a 17-year-old who attends Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School, led from start to finish at the Aquatic Centre in London, dominating the last 100 meters of the race to finish in a time of 2 minutes, 4.06 seconds. Her time was 0.75 of a second quicker than the previous record, which was set by Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry at the 2009 world championships. Coventry set the mark swimming in a bodysuit that is now banned.

Elizabeth Beisel, Franklin’s American teammate, took the bronze after touching the wall behind runner-up Anastasia Zueva of Russia.

“I can’t believe what just happened,” Franklin, who had dedicated her Olympics to victims of the theater shooting not far from her Colorado home, told the press afterwards. “In that last 25, I knew I was giving it everything I had because I couldn’t feel my arms and legs and I was just trying to get my hand to the wall as fast I could.”

Coventry, who finished sixth in the final in 2:08.18, congratulated Franklin over Twitter shortly after: “Congrats (at) franklinmissy that was some Great swimming. It was an awesome group of woman in the final, so glad to have been a part of it.”

It was the second individual world record for Franklin, who set the 200 backstroke short course mark at a FINA World Cup event in October of 2011 in Berlin, Germany. In December, she was part of an American 4×100 medley relay team that set a world record in the 2011 Duel in the Pool in Atlanta.

Franklin has four medals in her first Olympics thus far, three golds (100 and 200 backstrokes, 4×200 freestyle relay) and a bronze (4×100 freestyle relay). She has one event remaining, the women’s 4×100 medley relay, on Saturday.

“Still haven’t stopped smiling,” Franklin put on Twitter. “This journey has been so amazing. One more race, the 4×100 medley tomorrow night! So proud of my team!”

Michael Phelps joined Franklin with three gold medals in the London Olympics when he won the next race, the men’s 100 butterfly.

The Americans then got a gold medal from another teenager, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky — the youngest member of the U.S. team — who nearly broke the world record to win gold in the 800 freestyle. She denied Britain’s Rebecca Adlington a repeat before her home fans. Adlington settled for bronze in a race Ledecky dominated from start to finish.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

WOMEN’S 200 METER Backstroke

Final: 1. Missy Franklin, United States, 2 minutes, 04.06 seconds (world record); 2. Anastasia Zueva, Russia, 2:05.92; 3. Elizabeth Beisel, United States, 2:06.55; 4. Elizabeth Simmonds, Britain, 2:07.26; 5. Meagen Nay, Australia, 2:07.43; 6. Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe, 2:08.18; 7. Alexianne Castel, France, 2:08.43; 8. Sinead Russell, Canada, 2:09.86.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555

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