Swimmer Missy Franklin, 17, gets 'dream spot' in Olympics

OMAHA, Neb. — Missy Franklin is heading to her first Olympics at 17, winning the 100-meter backstroke in U.S. record time at the swimming trials Wednesday and denying Natalie Coughlin a chance to defend her title.

Coming back 20 minutes after the 200 freestyle semifinals — in which she advanced to the final — Franklin chased down Coughlin, who also won the event at the 2004 Games, on the return lap to win in 58.85 seconds. "I have dreamed of this moment, but I never thought it would come true at 17 years old," Franklin said. "Dreams do come true."

Coughlin, 29, was under world-record pace at the turn. But she couldn't hold off Franklin or Rachel Bootsma, 18, who got past the 11-time medalist to claim the second spot for London in 59.49. Coughlin was third in 1 minute, 0.06 seconds.

St. Petersburg's Megan Romano, a Northeast High graduate now at Georgia, was eighth and last, 2.17 behind.

In other finals, Matt Grevers won the men's 100 backstroke with the world's fastest time this year, 52.08. Breeja Larson, 20, who started swimming competitively three years ago, upset defending gold medalist and two-time world champion Rebecca Soni and world-record holder Jessica Hardy in the 100 breaststroke. Soni got the second spot on the team. Hardy finished third.

In the women's 200 free semis, Romano made the final with the fourth-fastest qualifying time, 1:57.99. Allison Schmitt, who previously qualified for London in the 400 free, was the top qualifier in 1:55.59. The final is today.

Among other swimmers with bay area or state university ties:

•Florida's Conor Dwyer was fourth in the men's 200 free, behind Michael Phelps and former Gator Ryan Lochte, and Gator Elizabeth Beisel qualified for today's 200 individual medley final.

•Clearwater native Robert Margalis did not advance to the final of the 200 butterfly, finishing last in his semifinal.

• Tampa's Chelsea Nauta, a Tampa Prep graduate, did not advance out of the 200 freestyle heats.

• Countryside grad Melanie Margalis, now at Georgia, was disqualified in the 200 individual medley heats.

•Florida State's Elizabeth Pepper didn't advance out of the 200 freestyle heats, nor did FSU's Josh Friedel out of the 100 backstroke. Incoming freshman Sami Pochowski didn't advance out of 100 breaststroke heats.

Track and field: The dead heat between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for third in the 100 meters at the trials and the final Olympic berth will be resolved after Saturday's 200 final, USA Track and Field said. Both are entered in the 200. The governing body said it made the decision after talking to the runners and their support teams. It says a result must be determined by Sunday, the end of the trials in Eugene, Ore., so a team can be named.

Gymnastics: Those who will select the members of the U.S. men's and women's team have their work cut out for them at the trials, which begin today in San Jose, Calif. One guaranteed spot is available, with the other nine gymnasts — five women, five men — chosen based on what combinations the selectors think give the Americans the best chance for team medals. The women won silver in 2008, the men bronze.

The top two men, using combined scores from this month's national championships and the trials, could lock up spots but only if they also finish in the top three of each of the six events. Other­wise, two men will be named Saturday night and the others Sunday.

The winner of the women's all-around gets the guaranteed spot. For the first time since 2000, the others will be determined after the trials end Sunday.

Tonight

Trials on TV

Gymnastics: 5:30, NBC Sports Network

Swimming: 8, Ch. 8

Track and field: 9, NBC Sports Network

.TONIGHT

Trials on TV

Gymnastics: 5:30, NBC Sports Network

Swimming: 8, Ch. 8

Track and field: 9, NBC Sports Network

Swimmer Missy Franklin, 17, gets 'dream spot' in Olympics 06/27/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 12:01am]

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