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A night of Phelps and the future

American Katie Ledecky, 15, breaks a 23-year-old U.S. record set by Janet Evans in winning the 800-meter freestyle.

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American Katie Ledecky, 15, breaks a 23-year-old U.S. record set by Janet Evans in winning the 800-meter freestyle.

LONDON — Michael Phelps is turning his final Olympics into quite a victory lap, and don't worry about U.S. swimming after he's gone. The post-Phelps era looks like it will be in good hands.

Phelps won the 17th gold medal of a career that had 24 hours to go — he swears — as of Friday, Missy Franklin, 17, broke a world record in the backstroke, and Katie Ledecky, 15, took down a U.S. mark that was set nearly eight years before she was born.

"This has sort of turned into the youth Olympics," Franklin said. "There's so many members of the team that are coming up this year that are going to carry on this incredible generation."

In the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps became the second swimmer to win an individual event at three straight Olympics, a day after he became the first. "My start of the meet wasn't what we wanted, but I seemed to pick up some steam at the end of the meet," he said.

The guy who edged him in the 200 fly, Chad le Clos of South Africa, tied Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin for silver.

Phelps has one event left, today's 400 medley relay.

Franklin swept the backstroke events by winning the 200 in 2 minutes, 4.06 seconds, eclipsing the record of 2:04.81 set by defending champion Kirsty Coventry at the 2009 worlds in a now-banned bodysuit. The Gators' Elizabeth Beisel got bronze. Coventry finished sixth.

Franklin is the first U.S. woman with three swimming golds at one Olympics since Jenny Thompson in 2000. It was her fourth medal overall.

Ledecky won the 800 freestyle in 8:14.63, crushing Janet Evans' U.S. mark of 8:16.22, set Aug. 20, 1989. It was the oldest U.S. record on the books by 15 years.

"I figured I was going pretty fast," Ledecky said.

Ledecky, the youngest U.S. swimmer, became the second-youngest U.S. woman to win an individual gold. Beth Botsford was 15 years, 62 days when she won the 100 backstroke in 1996; Ledecky is 15 years, 139 days.

Ledecky is the first U.S. woman to win the event since Tampa Bay area native Brooke Bennett won in 1996 and 2000. "Welcome to the gold medal club," she said on Twitter to Ledecky. "That was incredible to watch."

In the men's 50 freestyle, France won its fourth gold. Florent Manaudou shocked defending champ and world-record holder Cesar Cielo of Brazil, who was third. American Cullen Jones got silver. American Anthony Ervin, 31, the 2000 champ who came back from an eight-year retirement, was fifth.

A night of Phelps and the future 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 10:52pm]
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