INDIANAPOLIS – Missy Franklin closed the U.S. national championships with a flourish.
She won the 100-meter backstroke in record time, hugged her friend and future college teammate before turning her attention to next month’s world championships.
If she swims as well in Barcelona as she did in Indianapolis, America’s teenage swimming sensation could rule the world. She was the only swimmer to break 30 seconds over the final 50 meters in the 100 back Friday, finishing in 58.67 to win her fourth national title of the week and set a U.S. Open and long-course nationals record. Elizabeth Pelton was second in 59.27.
Franklin has won four of the five events she competed in, even pulling off a grueling double Wednesday night when she captured national titles in the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke in a span of about 90 minutes. Each of her four winning times ranks among the top five fastest in the world this year. Her winning time Friday was No. 2.
Franklin isn’t the only teen making a splash at the nationals.
Katie Ledecky, the 16-year-old Olympic champion in the 800 free, is expanding her repertoire, too. After winning the 800 free Tuesday and finishing second in the 200 free Wednesday, Ledecky delivered a personal best of 4 minutes, 4.05 seconds in winning the 400 free Friday. Chloe Sutton, a 2012 Olympian, was second in 4:06.64 with Olympic 10K silver medalist Haley Anderson third in 4:09.60.
And with the 1,500 free still to go today, Ledecky finds herself on the cusp of qualifying for one of the toughest feats in swimming – competing in the four longest freestyle events.
Breeja Larson and Jessica Hardy, who each won gold on relay teams in London, went one-two in the 100 breaststroke, finishing in 1:06.16 and 1:06.49.
Connor Jaeger won the men’s 400 free in 3:45.89.
The narrowest race of the night was the men’s 100 backstroke, won by David Plummer in 53.10. He edged Matt Grevers (53.25) and Ryan Murphy (53.38).