OMAHA — This week has been in Missy Franklin’s sights for four years, since she left here with her parents after competing in the United States Olympic trials as a 13-year-old. During the drive home to Colorado, Franklin said, she was focused on a distant horizon.
“I definitely knew what I wanted,” she said Sunday. “I wanted to be back in four years and have a shot to make the team. I knew I wanted that more than anything.”
Franklin, 17, comes into this week’s United States trials a favorite to make the team bound for the London Games in multiple events, starting with the 100 backstroke preliminaries and semifinals Tuesday. Her rivalry with Natalie Coughlin, an 11-time Olympic medalist, promises to be as compelling and competitive as the one between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Franklin’s star has risen she set a world record in a 25-meter pool in the 200 backstroke in Berlin last October. She has been featured in Vogue and in NBC promotional spots for the coming London Games, never mind that she hasn’t secured a berth yet on the United States team.
The history of the United States trials is rich in tales of woe, of past Olympians failing to make the team or of swimmers setting a record one day and not qualifying for the team the next. So Franklin was understandably concerned when she developed swollen glands and a sore throat last month. She completed one round of antibiotics and had to submit to a second round when the symptoms returned. Over the weekend, the sore throat stubbornly came back, but Franklin awoke Sunday feeling better than she has in the past several days. “I feel fine,” she said, smiling.