Swimming: Franklin, Brandon earn shots at U.S. Olympic Team in 100 backstroke

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OMAHA, Neb. | Wednesday’s finals of the 100-meter backstroke at the U.S Olympic Team Trials will have a Colorado flavor, as Missy Franklin and Bonnie Brandon made it into the top eight who will fight for two spots on the Olympic team.

The 17-year-old Franklin of the Colorado Stars — a senior-to-be at Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School — posted the top time in the two semifinals heats Tuesday evening at the CenturyLink Center, putting herself atop the group that will swim in the event final at 6:16 p.m. MT Wednesday.

Franklin set a personal best with her time of 59.06 seconds, which ranks second in the world this year behind only Anastasia Zueva (58.97) of Russia. It also put her just in front of 18-year-old Rachel Boostma, who won the other semifinal heat in 59.10.

“I love where I’m at right now,” Franklin told the Associated Press. “I feel strong, I feel powerful. It’s so awesome to feel this way and I’m having a blast.

“This is what I came here to do.”

Earlier in the day, Franklin posted a time of 59.49, which was tops among 162 competitors in the preliminary heats.

Brandon, a Cherry Creek High School graduate who swims for Mission Aurora Colorado Swimming, grabbed the eighth final slot with a time of 1:00.76. Brandon had the 23rd-best time coming into the meet.

The top two finishers in the finals make the U.S. Olympic Team.

Beth Harris of the Associated Press contributed to this report

2012 U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM TRIALS

WOMEN’S 100-METER BACKSTROKE

Finals qualifiers: 1. MISSY FRANKLIN (COLORADO STARS), 59.06 SECONDS; 2. Rachel Bootsma (AQJTMN), 59.10; 3. Olivia Smoliga (GTACIL), 59.82; 4. Elizabeth Pelton (T2-FL), 1:00.31; 5. Jennifer Connolly (TENNSE), 1:00.58; 6. Megan Romano (ABSCGA), 1:00.61; 7. Natalie Coughlin (CAL-PC), 1:00.63; 8. BONNIE BRANDON (MISSION AURORA), 1:00.76

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