GOLD COAST, Australia, August 20. THE decision to allow Missy Franklin to swim in Thursday’s heats of the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke will not be made until the last possible minute tomorrow morning, though the Olympic champion is improving rapidly after suffering back spasms on Tuesday evening.
Franklin did not swim at the Gold Coast Aquatic Center Wednesday and canceled a press conference appearance on advice from team doctors who monitored her progress while she recuperated at the team hotel. According to a USA Swimming statement, Franklin was able to swim elsewhere Wednesday “with minimal discomfort.”
“First of all, I have to thank our medical team for their amazing work and also my teammates, coaches, staff and fans for all their heartfelt support,” Franklin said through the USA Swimming statement. “I am feeling drastically better every hour that goes by and hoping and praying that I will be ready to race tomorrow. We will consistently coordinate with team doctors and staff to make the best decisions for myself and my team.”
Franklin’s events are scheduled back-to-back Thursday in prelims and finals. Franklin became famous for winning the gold medal in the 100 backstroke at the 2012 Olympics 17 minutes after a 200 free semifinal, and has swum in similar situations since then. On the line Thursday are not only gold medals in both events, but spots on the world championship roster. USA Swimming is selecting its team for next year’s worlds based on combined times from the U.S. nationals and Pan Pacs.
Franklin is currently the second-fastest American with her 1:56.40 from Irvine, and the top American in the 100 back this year with a 59.38. The top two American swimmers in the 200 free and 100 back get to swim those events at worlds, with the top six in the 200 free picked for relay duty.
Franklin is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100 backstroke, and won the world title last year in the 200 freestyle after placing fourth in that event at the 2012 Olympics.
Franklin’s tentative schedule for the remainder of the meet includes: the 100 free and 800 free relay on Friday, the 200 back and 400 free relay on Saturday, and the 400 medley relay on Sunday.