Phelps wins again but ‘Missile’ makes biggest splash

By Beth Harris/The Associated Press


SHANGHAI (AP) — Michael Phelps easily won the 100-meter butterfly, then ceded the spotlight to Missy Franklin, swimming’s newest breakout star who made a splash on her final night at the world championships.
Without Milorad Cavic pushing him, Phelps scowled upon seeing his time of 50.71 seconds Saturday night. Too slow for his liking, it was still good enough to earn him a second individual gold medal and his sixth overall with one day remaining in the meet.
Franklin won two more golds to leave the worlds with five medals overall — three gold, a silver and a bronze. As he watched her, Phelps recalled his first world meet in 2001 as a 15-year-old who set a world record.
“I kind of remember myself being like that, full of energy all the time,” he said. “She’s just happy, just enjoying everything, she’s never tired, she’s always swimming fast. She’s really been able to come on the scene strong. I’ve said this all along, she’s a stud.”
With a nickname to match — “Missile Missy,” bestowed by her father four years ago.
The 16-year-old phenom has energized the entire U.S. team and coaching staff with her bubbly personality, wide smile revealing a mouth full of braces, and impressive maturity.
“She’s genuinely happy and excited to race, more so than any swimmer on this team,” U.S. women’s co-captain Natalie Coughlin said. “It’s unbelievably refreshing to have her energy on the team.”
Franklin led all the way to win the 200 backstroke, then anchored the U.S. women to victory in the 400 medley relay. She accomplished so much at these worlds that her coach Todd Schmitz had to shave off his goatee as payback.
“I’ve never been this happy in my entire life. It has been such an incredible meet,” Franklin said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Listening to her, Coughlin laughed and said, “See what I mean? So excited to be here.”
Franklin set two American records, winning the 200 back in 2 minutes, 5.10 seconds — third fastest ever — and the medley relay in 3:52.36, along with Coughlin, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer. It was the Americans’ first relay at the worlds since 1998.
The teenager from Centennial, Colo., anchored the Americans’ victory in the 4×200 freestyle relay on Thursday, when she swam faster than Italy’s Federica Pellegrini did in winning the individual 200 free.
Franklin finished nearly a second in front of 200 back silver medalist Belinda Hocking of Australia, while Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands took bronze, another 2.68 seconds behind.
Franklin was asked if she was the female Phelps, a comparison that made Schmitz chafe, but one she handled with aplomb.
“It’s hard to compare yourself to someone who is just that unbelievable at what he does,” Franklin said. “So right now I’m just going to stick to swimming my races and just being me and having fun with it.”
Phelps won the 100 fly in 50.71 seconds after rallying from third at the turn. Konrad Czerniak of Poland took the silver at 51.15 while another American, Tyler McGill, earned bronze in 51.26.
“It’s definitely more comfortable having this than having a hundredth win,” Phelps said, referring to his victory by a hundredth of a second over Cavic at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Cavic, who is still regaining his form following back surgery, didn’t advance out of the preliminaries.
Phelps has three golds, two silvers and a bronze with one more event to go — the 4×100 medley relay Sunday.
“It’s really more about doing the times you want to do,” he said. “I hit pretty much all of them except this one.”
Phelps lost both head-to-head matchups with teammate Ryan Lochte in the 200 free and 200 individual medley. Lochte had the night off and will return in the 400 IM Sunday.
“It hasn’t really been the best year for me,” he said, “but to be able to finish with some of the swims that are faster than last year is taking steps in the right direction and going to allow me to hopefully set up something good for next year.”
Olympic champion Cesar Cielo of Brazil kept his title in the 50 free to earn his second gold medal. Cielo had a one-lap time of 21.52, well off the world record he set two years ago in Rome wearing a now-banned high-tech bodysuit.
“I wanted to win so bad,” said Cielo, who was cleared of doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week. “Coming out of this world championship with two golds and a fourth place, I think is a better situation than what I imagined two weeks ago.”
Luca Dotto of Italy took silver (21.90) and Alain Bernard of France (21.92) outtouched American Nathan Adrian by a hundredth of a second for bronze.
Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington won the 800 free at 8:17.51, putting her in good position to defend her title in her home country at next year’s London Olympics. Defending champion Lotte Friis of Denmark was second at 8:18.20, and American Kate Ziegler earned the bronze at 8:23.36.
“We’ve always raced against each other and it’s always been, ‘One does it one year, one does it the next year,’ but I hope to God it’s me next year,” Adlington said.
Dutch sprinter Inge Dekker won the women’s 50 fly, a non-Olympic event, in 25.71.