Saddled with huge expectations for the U.S. Olympic Trials — perhaps as large as those for a couple of guys named Phelps and Lochte — Franklin handled them with fast times and impressive poise at the CenturyLink Center.
Two first-place finishes. Two seconds. And the right to swim seven total events at the Summer Olympics in London.
That's right — seven.
“She really just cemented that she's a true gamer,” said Todd Schmitz, her coach with the Colorado Stars. “I was very impressed at how she was able to just keep rolling.”
The roll was complete Sunday night after Franklin, 17, won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:06.12, about a second off her American record. She added that to her first in the 100 backstroke and runner-up finishes in the 100 and 200 freestyles.
After her final medal ceremony in Omaha, she thanked a crowd of 12,406 for all of its help and said she looked forward to going home to cuddle her dog and spend time with her parents and friends before joining Team USA in Knoxville, Tenn.
“The whole week, I think, went really, really well,” Franklin said. “It's gone just as well as Todd and I could have ever asked for. I think we're both truly thrilled. I can't believe I have seven events. It's so overwhelming, but so exciting at the same time.”
No American woman has swam more than six events at a Summer Games. That was first done by Shirley Babashoff in 1976 and then by Katie Hoff and Natalie Coughlin in 2008.
Franklin will get to seven with her four individuals and expected legs with the 400 medley, 400 free and 800 free relay units.
“We had a plan going into it, and so everybody is pretty excited that the plan went accordingly,” Schmitz said.
Franklin turned a good start in the 200 backstroke into an uneventful finish. She was fastest in each of the first three 50s, and the only real drama was Elizabeth Beisel (2:07.58) and Elizabeth Pelton (2:08.06) fighting for second.
Beisel already had qualified for the U.S. team by winning the 400 IM last Monday night. She also has an idea what Franklin will be walking into in London, having made the 2008 Olympic team as a 15-year-old.
But Beisel never faced near the pressure or media demands at the 2008 U.S. Trials that Franklin was dealing with here in 2012, which all started after the 2011 World Championships.
“She's been doing amazing, especially after last summer,” Beisel said. “She handles the media so well. I can see it's a lot of pressure on her, but she handles it like she's 25 and she's been doing this for years.”
Franklin actually admitted to being “flustered all week.” She called it an emotional roller coaster. Her and Schmitz had to sneak out to Starbucks the other day just because they realized that she'd been outside about one time since they arrived in Omaha.
But Schmitz said they knew that it wasn't going to be easy.
“I'll tell you what, this is by far the most stressful environment I've ever been in as a coach and she's ever been in as a swimmer,” Schmitz said. “I'll guarantee you the Olympics will not be this stressful. Here you're not guaranteed anything.”
And that included Sunday, when Franklin easily could have stumbled in the 200 backstroke and still considered this a successful trip.
But there would be no setback in an event that Franklin has held the American mark since her 2:05.10 at the 2011 World Championships.
“It felt great,” Franklin said. “I felt really strong. It always hurts so bad at the end, but if it doesn't, then you're not doing it right.”
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