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OMAHA, Nebraska, June 26. THE Trials textile best was twice lowered during prelims of the women's 100 back qualifying at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Aquajets' Rachel Bootsma first tracked it down with a 59.69, before Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin overhauled the time again with a strong 59.54.
Franklin, who exploded onto the international scene last summer with three world titles, is looking for her first Olympic berth after finishing in the 30s in her events in 2008 as a high school freshman. Her performance moved her to fifth in the world this year, cutting time from her previously eighth-ranked season best of 59.89. Franklin has definitely been one of the media darlings, with some calling her the next Michael Phelps due to her potential, as NBC has already begun building Olympic advertising around her.
Bootsma, a Swimming World High School Swimmer of the Year, has been much more under the radar but is in line for a breakthrough meet. She won this event at Pan Ams last year, and has been progressing as a legitimate threat after initially being more of a 50 sprinter. Her time during heat 15 undercut the Trials textile best of 59.85 clocked in 2004 at the Long Beach Trials.
T2's Elizabeth Pelton picked up the third seed with a 1:00.55 in a slower final heat of 17, with the top guns knowing the time to make the semifinal round. Pelton, who will team up with Bootsma at California in college, helped Team USA to gold in the 400 medley relay at last year's World Championships. Meanwhile, Glenview Titan's Olivia Smoliga checked in with a 1:00.60 to qualify fourth in her first Trials swim.
Veteran Natalie Coughlin, who is looking for a threepeat in the event as the winner in 2004 and 2008, cruised into the semifinal round with an easy 1:00.71, while Megan Romano picked up a 1:00.79 to break into the top eight. Romano has had a breakthrough year, setting an American record at NCAAs in March as well as posting some amazing relay legs for the University of Georgia. Cheyenne Coffman (1:00.94) and Kylie Stewart (1:01.25) round out the top eight. Notably, Kaitlin Harty made the semifinals outside of the circle-seeded heats with a 16th-place 1:02.22.
Missy Franklin — 59.54
Rachel Bootsma — 59.69
Elizabeth Pelton — 1:00.55
Olivia Smoliga — 1:00.60
Natalie Coughlin — 1:00.71
Megan Romano — 1:00.79
Cheyenne Coffman — 1:00.94 (lifetime best)
Kylie Stewart — 1:01.25 (lifetime best)
Bonnie Brandon — 1:01.31 (lifetime best)
Cindy Tran — 1:01.46
Jenny Connolly — 1:01.47
Kristen Shickora — 1:01.57
Sarah Denninghoff — 1:01.63 (lifetime best)
Kelsey Conci — 1:01.65 (lifetime best)
Kathleen Baker — 1:01.92 (lifetime best)
Kaitlin Harty — 1:02.22