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Friday, August 3, 2012
Instant analysis: Top swimming stories

By Wayne Drehs

LONDON -- A quick look at the top stories from the London Aquatics Centre on Friday night:

Magnificent Missy

On Thursday, Missy Franklin laughed off the suggestion that her body was starting to tire at the end of her grueling seven-event schedule, the most ever for a female swimmer. "I'm only 17," Franklin said. "There's no such thing as fatigue."

On Friday night, she backed up those words, winning her third gold of the London Games and setting a new world record in the 200-meter backstroke, her best event. Franklin won in 2:04:06, bettering Kirsty Coventry's 2009 world record by three-quarters of a second.

With the win, Franklin became the first American to win the event since Melissa Belote in 1972. That year, Belote also won the 100 and 200 back, just as Franklin did here. Fellow American Elizabeth Beisel won the bronze (2:06.53).

Franklin has now won four medals in London, three of them gold, and is expected to swim the backstroke leg of the 4x100 medley relay Saturday, the final night of competition in the pool.

"It feels amazing," she said. "It's my favorite one. I'm the happiest girl alive."

Michael on a mission

With 50 meters to go in the 100 butterfly Friday night, Michael Phelps was in seventh place, more than a second behind longtime rival Milorad Cavic. It didn't matter. In the last individual event of his decorated career, Phelps catapulted down the water like a man on a gold-medal mission, turning in the fastest 50-meter split and catching Cavic to win gold.

It was Phelps' third gold of these Olympics and 17th of his career. It also extended his Olympics medal record to 21 with one more event left on his schedule, the 4x100 medley relay Saturday night.

After the race, Phelps refused to complain about his first 50 or criticize what he said was a poor turn. Instead, he focused on the positive.

"I'm just happy the last individual event was gold," he said. "That's all I really wanted at the end of the night."

Teenage star

The U.S. found its latest distance star Friday night when 15-year-old Katie Ledecky won the 800 freestyle in a near world-record time of 8:14.63. Ledecky, the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team, managed to shave more than five seconds off her U.S. Olympic trials-winning time (8:19.78) and broke Janet Evans' 22-year-old American record (8:16.22).

"I figured I was going pretty fast, and at one point I thought, '[Even] if I am going to be close to this record, I don't even care. I just want to get my hand on the wall first,'" Ledecky said.

She also became the first American woman to win the 800 since Brooke Bennett in 2000.