London’s Calling: Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin

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PHOENIX, Arizona, July 26. THIS is your friendly reminder that the Olympic Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow. Just in case you’ve recently been cut off from all media.

Today is also the last installment of Swimming World’s London’s Calling series, in which we profile two Team USA athletes a day leading up to the London Opening Ceremonies on July 27. Which is tomorrow (another friendly reminder, in case you skimmed over the first one).

We end our series by featuring two swimmers competing in a daunting number of events in London. Expectations in London are undeniable for Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin.

Michael Phelps:

Michael Phelps is the dark horse going into the London Olympics. He pulled off a number of startling upsets at this year’s Olympic Trials, thrusting him unwillingly into the spotlight.

Ok, I’ll be serious now: Michael Phelps is once again the man to beat in London. Although he does not have the event schedule to win eight gold medals, as he did in Beijing 2008, London boasts a pretty collection of medals that are Phelps’ for the taking.

Phelps qualified for his first Olympics in 2000 at the age of 15. He swam the 200 butterfly, placing fifth in the event. The following year at the 2001 World Aquatic Championships, Phelps set a new world record in the 200 butterfly, making him the youngest male swimmer to set a world mark.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Phelps won his first Olympic gold in the 400IM. He followed this up with gold medals in the 100 and 200 butterfly, 200IM, 4×200 freestyle relay and 4×100 medley relay. He also took home two bronze medals in the 200 freestyle and 4×100 freestyle relay.

In his third Olympics, Beijing 2008, Phelps set the record for number of gold medals won in a single Olympics. He won eight gold medals, breaking Mark Spitz’s 1972 record seven gold medals. The “perfect record” of events he swam included the 100 and 200 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 200 and 400IM, 4×100 freestyle relay, 4×200 freestyle relay and the 4×100 medley relay.

At the 2012 Olympic Trials, Phelps qualified to compete individually in the 200 and 400IM, 200 and 100 fly and 200 freestyle. He won all of the events he qualified in, except the 400IM, which went to rival Ryan Lochte. This line-up put him, yet again, in contention for an eight-gold-medal repeat. However, after Trials, he opted to scratch the 200 freestyle and focus his energy on the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Phelps has stated that London 2012 will be his fourth, and final Olympics.

“It’s my last swim on American soil, my last Olympic Trials swim,” Phelps said on the last night of Trials. “It’s kinda crazy to think about. I made my first Olympic Team 12 years ago. A lot of memories and emotions are running through my head.”

So what can the public count on from Phelps in London?

“You’re going to be able to count on some pretty close races,” said Phelps. “Maybe not by one one-hundredth (referring to his close 100 butterfly win in Beijing 2008)… I’ll try and keep them over the tenth barrier.”

Phelps has trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club with coach Bob Bowman since he was 10 years old.

Missy Franklin:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

The best way to classify 17-year-old Missy Franklin is as the “darling” of USA Swimming. The Aurora, Colorado high school student recently attended her Junior prom. She got her braces off this year, and, oh yeah — she just qualified to compete in seven events in London.

Franklin hit the international swimming scene in 2010, when she placed second in the 200 backstroke at the FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai. At the 2011 World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, Franklin won here first world title in the 200 backstroke, setting a new national record.

Later that year, Franklin set her first world record in the 200 meter short-course backstroke at the 2011 FINA World Cup.

At this year’s Olympic Trials, Franklin pulled the ultimate double: she swam the 200 backstroke semi-finals, then turned around “about 18 minutes later” to place second in the finals of her 100 freestyle. Her second-place finish qualified her individually in the 100 freestyle and as a member of the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay.

After the event, Franklin said, “I love doing tough doubles like that.” Adding that she was warming-down the entire time between races.

Apart from the 100 freestyle, Franklin qualified in three more individual events. She won the 100 backstroke, breaking Natalie Coughlin’s American record in the process. Franklin placed second to Allison Schmitt in the 200 freestyle, and won the 200 backstroke. Her individual placing earns Franklin spots on the 4×100 freestyle, 4×100 medley and 4×200 freestyle relays.

Franklin swims for the Colorado Stars, under coach Todd Schmitz.

“I think he’s as happy as I am,” Franklin said about coach Schmitz’s reaction to her performance in Omaha. “We’ve worked through this together.”

But is the Olympic newcomer ready for the challenges London will present?

“I am ready,” said Franklin. “I’m ready to be part of an Olympic team and represent Team USA.”

Read the rest of the “London’s Calling” Series by clicking on the link below:
London’s Calling: Swimming World’s Countdown to the Opening Ceremonies

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller, who had a wonderful time writing this series, and is looking forward to watching fast swimming in London!

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