Road to Rio a bumpy one for Franklin

Sat Jul 2, 2016 11:43pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Missy Franklin was the 17-year-old darling of American swimming in 2012, returning home from the London Olympics with four gold medals and being hailed as the sport's brightest young star.

Four years on, Franklin is headed back to the Olympics having qualified in two individual events, the 200 meters freestyle and 200 backstroke, at the U.S. trials and is assured of another spot on the 4x200 relay team.

But the trials, which end on Sunday, have not gone completely according to plan for Franklin, who has struggled to find the form that made her one of the sport's biggest names.

She failed to top the podium in any individual event in Omaha, qualifying for the 200 freestyle as runner-up behind the new queen of women's swimming, Katie Ledecky, and the 200 backstroke behind first-time Olympian Maya DiRado.

Franklin will have a shot at defending her 200 backstroke title in Rio but not her signature event, the 100, after laboring to a seventh place finish in the final.

With her trials over, even the usually optimistic Franklin said things could have gone better.

"I've been saying I don't think I swam it as well as I could have," said Franklin. "But you know what? I got a spot, and that's all I needed to do."

She will have to do much more in Rio if she hopes to come close to clearing the bar she set for herself in London, where she also won a bronze in the 4x100 freestyle relay.   Continued...

July 1, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Missy Franklin reacts after competing during the women's 200m backstroke preliminary heats in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports