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Schmitt won in an Olympic-record 1:53.61. France's Camille Muffat took silver in 1:55.58, almost a body length behind, while Bronte Barrett of Australia took the bronze over Franklin by a hundredth of a second. Barrett touched in 1:55.81. Franklin, who led after the first 50, was fourth in 1:55.82.
"I was just racing," said Schmitt, who is quietly becoming one of the stars of the pool. "I knew I had to kick it. I just look at that scoreboard and see 53 and first place. I couldn't be happier."
She captured her first career gold medal, to go along with a silver in the 400 free and a bronze in the 4x100 free relay.
The 17-year-old Franklin was denied her third medal of the games, one night after her gutsy victory in the 100 backstroke earned her a tweet-out from pop star Justin Bieber.
"I was trying to do the best that I can," said Franklin, who still has four more events in London. "I was in an incredible heat. I really wanted to go best time."
China's Ye Shiwen set an Olympic record to win her second gold of the London Games, adding the 200 individual medley title to a world-record performance in the 400 IM that sparked suspicions about doping. Everyone from her fellow swimmers to the International Olympic Committee have come to her defense, and she put aside any distractions to win again.
The questions didn't stop. The teenager was peppered with drug-related queries at her news conference, including a reporter asking her point-black if she had ever used banned substances.
"Absolutely not," Ye said through a translator.
The 16-year-old took the lead in the final lap and clocked 2:07.57, shaving 0.18 off her own mark set in Monday's semifinal. Alicia Coutts of Australia touched in 2:08.15 to take the silver medal and Caitlin Leverenz of the United States finished in 2:08.95 to take bronze.
Defending champion Stephanie Rice of Australia was fourth.