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Missy Franklin takes gold medal in 100 backstroke

Published July 30, 2012 2:57 pm

Olympics • Finishing kick lifts teen to win in 100-meter backstroke.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

London • Her dad cried Monday night. So did mom. Even her coach welled up over what they had just witnessed, Missy Franklin, the new pride of American swimming, becoming an Olympic gold medalist for the first time.

Dick Franklin, Missy's father, is a big hulking ex-Canadian football player. He hadn't cried in a long time, he said. When was the last time?

"The day she was born," he said.

On that day, 17 years ago, Dick never thought he'd one day stare down from the Olympic Aquatics Centre and see his daughter listen to the national anthem with a gold medal around her neck. Frankly, neither did his daughter.

Not now. Not after Missy recently finished her junior year of high school in Aurora, Colo.

"I can't even put into words," a beaming Franklin said afterward. "It was absolutely indescribable. After thinking about it and imagining it for so long, it doesn't seem real. It really doesn't. You think about it so often you feel like you're dreaming.

"I still feel like someone needs to pinch me."

She needed to pinch the other swimmers. Were they dreaming or did they really see this 17-year-old girl roar from behind to win the 100-meter backstroke and break the American record with a 58.33 clocking shortly after swimming a 200-meter freestyle semifinal?

Yes, they did. Franklin's remarkable feat will go down in American swimming lore. She qualified eighth for Tuesday night's 200 freestyle final, jumped out of the pool, jumped into the diving pool, swam a few laps, jumped out and won a gold medal. All in the space of 15 minutes.

Afterward, one of her teammates came up to her, gave her a high-five and said the least amount of time he's had between Olympic swims was 30 minutes.

"I can't believe you just did that!" Michael Phelps told her.

Neither did her parents.

"We couldn't believe it," said her mom, D.A. "The 100 back isn't even her event. It's the 200 back. She feels she gets stronger the longer the race. If there was a 400 back no one would ever touch her."

Franklin trailed much of the race but surged to the finish to edge Australia's Emily Seebohm, second at 58.68. Seebohm came in red hot. She had broken the Olympic record in Sunday morning's prelims with a 58.23 then blazed to a 58.39 in the semis. Franklin, who had the best time in the world entering the meet at 58.85, was suddenly the hunter instead of the hunted. And Seebohm had rested all day.