|Franklin torched the world record. (US Presswire)|
Missy Franklin doesn't live up to the hype -- she blazes past it.
The brilliant, 17-year-old backstroker took napalm to the world record in the 200-meter freestyle Friday, touching the wall in 2:04.06, beating the previous, three-year-old record by more than half a second and defeating the rest of this year's field by almost two seconds.
Anastasia Zueva of Russia took silver with a 2:05.92 finish, while fellow American Elizabeth Beisel took the bronze, touching the wall in 2:06.55.
Franklin's lead was never in doubt and only grew larger with each lap. She led after the first turn and was ahead of world-record pace at the halfway point. By then, she was 1.27 ahead of Brit swimmer Elizabeth Simmonds, who was then in second place. By the final turn, Franklin held a two-second lead and it from there it was obvious that she would cruise to the gold and definitely become an American swim icon.
The win and new record is symbolic for obvious reasons, but also for this one: the U.S. had not taken gold in this event in 40 years. The U.S. is so dominant in so many swim races across both genders that we sometimes forget about/don't realize the ones Team USA has struggled in for decades.
"I've dreamed about this moment my whole life," Franklin told the BBC right after the race. "I dedicate every single thing I've done here to them (in Aurora, Colo.)."
Franklin is from the town that was recently torn apart by the mass murders that happened during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
While gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas has become the It Girl of these Games for the U.S., Franklin's right there with her. She's come through in so many events and really been properly billed as the next great American female swimmer. To do what she's done at her age is abnormal, especially for a female swimmer. She's diverse and dangerous in a lot of strokes, none more lethal than her loping, rapid backstroke.
Franklin has now won three gold medals, taking first in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, as well as being part of the first-place team in the 4x200 freestyle relay. Her fourth medal, a bronze, came in the 4x100 freestyle relay.
Also pretty cool: Franklin posing with the former record-holder in the event, Kirsty Coventry.