RIO DE JANEIRO | Missy Franklin got that Olympic gold medal feeling back Wednesday night.
The Colorado Stars club swimmer and graduate of Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School won four gold medals in her Olympic debut in 2012, but had to wait until five days into the Rio Games to claim her first.
Franklin swam for the U.S. team in the prelims of the women’s 4×200 meter relay, then watched Allison Schmitt, Leah Smith, Maya Dirado and Katie Ledecky team up in the finals to bring home a gold medal for the entire team.
The leadoff leg for the Americans in the finals in London, Franklin swam in the prelims this time along with Schmitt, Melanie Margalis and Cierra Runge and helped send the Americans into the finals with the top qualifying time of 7 minute, 47.77 seconds.
“Anytime I can be on a relay — whether it’s morning, night, in practice, whatever it is — it means the absolute world to me,” Franklin told the Associated Press after the prelims.
“We got out there and did our job. We needed to get them a good lane tonight. We know our coaches are going to make the decision putting our best foot forward.”
After much discussion and deliberation, the U.S. coaching staff picked a lineup of Schmitt — the fastest swimmer in the prelims and a returner from the finals team in London — along with Smith, Dirado (a hot hand with two individual medals already to her credit) and Ledecky, the runaway star of the Games so far.
The Americans trailed for most of the first three legs of the race, but Ledecky erased a body length deficit during her anchor leg and brought the U.S. home in 7:43.03, more than a second and a half in front of Australia.
Franklin, Margalis and Runge all received gold medals in addition to the four finalists.
The last event for Franklin her Rio program is the women’s 200 meter backstroke, which has prelims on Thursday morning and semifinals in the evening, followed by the finals on Friday evening.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel