Race of the Night: Arena Grand Prix – Austin Night Three

Commentary by Shoshanna Rutemiller

PHOENIX, Arizona, January 20. KARLEE Bispo thwarted Missy Franklin from her 10th title on the third and final night of USA Swimming's Austin Arena Grand Prix. The Longhorn powered past Missy the Missile on the breaststroke leg of the 200 IM and then held on for dear life down the freestyle home stretch.

But – dry your tears – Franklin Fans. Don't expect Missy's mega-watt smile to dim anytime soon. If anything, getting beaten once in a while should do the high school senior some good.

“I'm not even close to where I want to be yet,” Franklin said between breaths after her 100 backstroke win earlier in the night. “That's what I love about this sport, there's no such thing as perfect.”

Franklin was less-than-perfect shortly thereafter, when she fell to Bispo in tonight's Race of the Night: the women's 200 IM.

Bispo started the night off right, collecting her first win in the women's 100 breaststroke (1:09.37). In a slight twist, this final night was Bispo's only night of competition. She flew into Austin earlier in the day, fresh off a clinic with fellow Longhorn Kathleen Hersey.

Talking to Rowdy Gaines after her 100 breaststroke win, Bispo (typically pegged as a freestyle/IMer) admitted that the reason she swam breaststroke events was actually, “…more for helping my IM.”

Hmm…. Looking back, that statement certainly foreshadowed her second event of the night.

“I knew Missy would give me a good race and push me to a good time,” Bispo said after her second win of the night. “I knew that I could turn it on in the breaststroke… I saw her coming on strong, so I just put my head down into the wall.”

Bispo finished with a 2:12.49 to Franklin's 2:12.57. The finish was a nail biter, too, watching Franklin creep up on Bispo the last 15 meters. Frankly, if there were ten more meters in the race, it's doubtful that Bispo could have held Franklin off.

But those extra meters never appeared. Instead, Bispo came away with two Grand Prix titles, and the official deed to “I beat Missy Franklin” bragging rights.