Fourteen minutes: That's how long American teen swimming sensation Missy Franklin had in between two swims on Monday night at the Aquatic Center in London. Fourteen minutes: barely enough time to cool down or slow your pulse or put on a sweatshirt or, if she had to, take off those painted-on swimsuits to use the restroom. And the 17-year-old swimming the most ambitious program in women's Olympic history showed nary a sign of fatigue. Ahh, the exuberance of youth.
Franklin won a gold medal in her first individual final in London, coming behind from an early deficit to win the 100 backstroke in 59.12. That race started 14 minutes after she finished her semifinal in the 200 freestyle, touching in fourth in her heat and qualifying eighth for Tuesday's final.
When she got out of the pool after the 200, the clock had just hit 7:38 p.m. in London. Fourteen minutes later, she was jumping back in.
The Colorado native appeared to conserve her energy in the semifinal of the four-lap freestyle race. It was a necessary, if dangerous, strategy that left her in fourth place in her heat and in the last spot of qualifying. Had she gone 0.20 seconds slower, Franklin would have been on the outside of the eight-woman final on Tuesday night.
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She's expected to be competitive in that race, but the freestyle is hardly a medal lock for her. The backstroke, on the other hand, is her signature event. She won the 200 backstroke at last year's world championships in Shanghai, the race that signaled her arrival on the international scene, and is expected to do so again in London. She was the odds-on favorite to win the 100 as well.
For the first 30 meters of the race, it appeared that her schedule was too demanding. Franklin got off to her usual slow start, but this time it was fair to wonder how much she'd have left in the tank. Before that thought could crystallize, Franklin made her move. She accelerated into the flags, flipped in second and pulled ahead by the 65-meter mark. The final margin was a healthy 0.35 seconds.
How short was that 14 minutes in between Franklin's races? You could only watch the video of Franklin's breakout "Call Me Maybe" lip-synching performance four times.
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