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Franklin scratches 50 back at world championships

July 31, 2013

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Michael Phelps will remain the only person to win eight gold medals at a major swimming championship.

For Missy Franklin, a shot at seven was enough.

Franklin gave up on her bid to win eight golds at the world championships Wednesday after a lackluster showing in the preliminaries of the 50-meter backstroke. Even though the 18-year-old advanced to the semifinals, she scratched the event to focus on the 200 freestyle, one of her most demanding events.

The decision was not all that surprising, given the 50 back is a non-Olympic event that Franklin swims mainly for fun. The freestyle has been a major focus this season after she just missed out on medals in the 100 and 200 last summer at the Olympics.

Franklin was a major star in London, winning four golds and a bronze, but she finished fourth in the 200 free — missing a medal by one-hundredth of a second — and fifth in the 100 free.

After a demanding double on Tuesday, Franklin acknowledged she wasn’t at her best for the preliminaries the following morning.

She posted the 13th-fastest time at 28.44 seconds — nearly a second behind the top qualifier, China’s Fu Yuanhui in 27.55.

“I’m a little sore this morning, I’m not going to lie,” Franklin said, before it was revealed she was scratching.

Franklin did win a bronze in the 50 back at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, so her coach, Todd Schmitz, put it on the program for Barcelona.

But the one-lap sprint is a bit of a crapshoot, with Franklin merely a contender rather than the overwhelming favorite that she is in the 100 and 200 back.

“The 50 back is kind of just a fun event with no pressure,” she said. “You have that one lap down the pool and so much can happen. It’s kind of fun because you never really know what’s going to happen.”

Franklin went into the evening session looking to go 3 for 3 at worlds. She already won gold medals in the 400 free relay and the 100 back. She was the second-fastest qualifier in the 200 free behind Italy’s Federica Pelligrini.

“It’s going be very, very tough,” Franklin said. “The field is so close.”

Phelps won seven golds at the 2007 worlds in Melbourne, missing out on a chance for No. 8 when the U.S. was disqualified in the prelims of the 400 medley relay while he was resting up to swim in the final.

The following year, of course, he won eight golds at the Beijing Olympics.


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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