Alongside Allison Schmitt, — American record holder in the 200-meter freestyle — Melanie Margalis and Cierra Runge, Missy Franklin helped Team USA’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay team to qualify first in 7:47.77, almost 1.5 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Franklin’s split, 1:57.03, was the second-fastest for the United States’ prelims relay.
With Team USA the overwhelming favorite, the goal in the event was not only a gold medal but also a world record. In the last four years, American relay has had all the pieces to break the record, but it hasn’t come together yet. With Franklin at her her best, the United States could have fielded a relay with three of the most dominant 200-meter freestylers of the last few years.
By clinching the second spot in the individual 200-meter freestyle event at U.S. Olympic Trials, Missy Franklin automatically earned a spot on the 800-meter freestyle relay. Franklin, however, has had a rough start to the Olympic Games.
In the individual 200-meter freestyle, Franklin could not make it to finals after placing last in her semifinals race. With the shaky performance, Team USA’s coaches offered Franklin a redemption and a chance by penciling her into the prelims lineup. American relays will typically field five to eight different swimmers by substituting its best swimmers out of prelims to conserve energy.
Ultimately, Franklin’s split wasn’t enough to prove to the coaches that she deserved a leg in finals. Runge, who swam at Cal for a year, Franklin and Margalis were replaced by Katie Ledecky, Leah Smith and Maya DiRado in the finals. Ledecky, who anchored in a very fast split of 1:53.74, secured the victory for Team USA. Without Franklin at her best, Team USA was about a tenth of a second off the Olympic record and almost a full second off the world record. By being part of the prelims race, however, Franklin, Margalis and Runge will also receive gold medals for their efforts.
Contact Chris Zheng at [email protected].