American teenager Missy Franklin set a world record in the 200 backstroke Friday for her third gold and fourth medal overall at the London Olympics.
Franklin clocked 2 minutes, 4.06 seconds, 0.75 quicker than the mark set by Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe at the 2009 world championships in Rome in a now-banned bodysuit.
It was the seventh world record of the games.
In what has amounted to a symbolic changing of the guard, Franklin’s record effort preceded Michael Phelps’ victory in the 100 fly. "This has sort of turned into the youth Olympics," Franklin said. "There’s so many members of the team that are coming up this year that are going to carry on this incredible generation."
"Missy The Missile" has certainly lived up to her nickname, completing a sweep of the backstroke events in a time of 2 minutes, 4.06 seconds, easily eclipsing the record of 2:04.81 set by defending Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry at the 2009 worlds in a now-banned bodysuit.
Russia’s Anastasia Zueva took silver, a body length behind Franklin in 2:05.92. Beisel put a second American on the medal podium in 2:06.55, while Coventry finished sixth.
"I can’t believe what just happened," said Franklin, who had dedicated her Olympics to victims of the theater shooting not far from her Colorado home. "In that last 25, I knew I was giving it everything I had because I couldn’t feel my arms and legs."
Franklin, who is competing in seven events at her first Olympics, also has a bronze and one more race to add to her haul in the 4×100 medley relay Saturday.
Unlike the men, the American women haven’t won the medley relay since 2000. Australia took gold at the last two Olympics and led the way into the final as top qualifier, looking to bring a bit of joy to the battered team from Down Under, normally a powerhouse of the pool but limited to just one swimming gold so far in London.
American 15-year-old Katie Ledecky won the 800-meter freestyle.
The youngest member of the U.S. swim team narrowly missed a world record in the grueling race, falling off pace on the last lap and finishing in 8 minutes, 14.63 seconds.
Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain touched in 8:18.76 to take the silver medal and defending champion Rebecca Adlington of host Britain finished in 8:20.32 for bronze.
Adlington set the world record of 8:14.10 at the 2008 Beijing Games.