OMAHA, Neb. — For Missy Franklin, another miss at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
The star of the London Games struggled to an 11th-place showing in the semifinals of the 100-meter freestyle Thursday night, failing to even make it to the final.
That leaves Franklin with only one individual race in Rio and just one more chance to bulk up her program: the 200 backstroke.
No matter what, Franklin’s bubbly personality will be much less of a presence at these Summer Games than it was four years ago.
"That speed just doesn’t feel like it’s quite there this meet," she said. "No idea why. It’s super disappointing, but I really feel like my endurance is there, so it gives me a lot of hope for my 200 back."
While Franklin is struggling, another Olympic gold medalist will get a chance to defend his title.
Nathan Adrian, the burly 27-year-old who won the 100 freestyle in London, used a powerful finishing kick to win in 47.72 seconds. Caeleb Dressel will also get to swim the down-and-back sprint in Rio, taking the second spot at 48.23.
Anthony Ervin, the oldest swimmer at the trials, got off to a blistering start and led at the turn. The 35-year-old couldn’t hold on, fading to fourth in 48.54 while also touching behind Ryan Held (48.26).
But the top four are assured of spots on the team for the 4×100 free relay, meaning Ervin will be headed to his third Olympics.
On the fifth night of the meet, Josh Prenot became the latest Olympic rookie to make the team, knocking off Kevin Cordes in the 200 breaststroke. Cordes had already won the 100 breast and was more than a second under world-record pace at the final turn of the longer race.
But Prenot, furiously bouncing up and down in the water, surged past Cordes on the final lap to win in 2 minutes, 7.17 seconds, setting an American record and finishing just off the world mark of 2:07.01 held since 2012 by Japan’s Akhiro Yamaguchi.
Also Thursday, Cammile Adams won the 200 butterfly after being briefly disqualified once day earlier during the preliminaries. The ruling that she made an illegal turn was quickly overturned after a review provided by the underwater camera, and Adams took advantage of her second chance to win with a time of 2:06.80. Hali Flickinger took the second Olympic spot in 2:07.50.
Franklin is going to her second Summer Games, but she won’t be nearly as busy this time around.
As a high schooler in London, Franklin took part in seven events, winning four golds and a bronze. She finished fifth in the 100 free, but won’t be part of that race at all this time around.
At age 21, Franklin hasn’t been able to recapture the magic that carried her to such heights in 2012. Outside of a gutsy runner-up finish in the 200 freestyle, she’s shaping up as one of the biggest flops of these trials.
Franklin finished seventh in the 100 backstroke, a race she won in London, and that knocks her out of consideration for the 4×100 medley relay.
Her dismal showing in the 100 free surely removes any possibility of taking part in the 4×100 free relay.
At most, Franklin will have only three events on her Rio agenda.