USA Swimming’s established star and its newest star led the American domination of Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympics at the Aquatics Centre. Michael Phelps captured gold in the 100m Butterfly, while Missy Franklin blew away the field in the 200m Backstroke.
In the women’s 800m Freestyle, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky of the U.S. swam the second-fastest race ever by a woman, just missing out on setting a new world record. Fellow Americans Cullen Jones added a silver in the 50m free and Elizabeth Beisel took bronze in the 200m Backstroke.
[Cullen Jones teaches kids to swim through the Make a Splash Foundation]
But the story of the day was Phelps. An Olympics that started with a whimper for him is going out with a bang. When he placed fourth in the 400m Individual Medley last Saturday, a race he was the two-time defending Olympic champion in, it looked that the sport had begun to pass him by. Less than a week later he has rebounded with three golds. And in what could be his last individual swim at an Olympics, the most decorated Olympian ever surged from behind to defend his 100m Butterfly title.
[Phelps beats Lochte in 200m IM]
Phelps, behind at the turn looked in a bit of trouble, but a powerful drive in the last 25m pushed him ahead of Chad Le Clos, the South African who just beat him in the 200m Butterfly. He looked emotional on the medal stand, in what will likely be the last time he’ll ever climb atop the podium as an individual Olympic champion.
While one storied career ended, we’ve seen the emergence of a new one in London in Franklin. She smashed the world record in the 200m Backstroke, winning her third gold of the games to go with her bronze in the 4x100 relay. The 17-year-old high schooler led wire-to-wire, finishing ahead of silver medalist Anastasia Zueva of Russia and American Elizabeth Beisel, who took bronze. Franklin lead after the first 100m, swimming ahead of world record pace. At 150m she had a nearly a full body-length lead.
Franklin still has the 4x100 Medley Relay left to swim on Saturday night. Phelps will likely swim for a fourth gold of these games in the 4x100 medley relay.
[Did you know that before Missy Franklin was a gold medalist she was a Sports Illustrated Kids Sports Kid of the Year Finalist? Nominate a great kid athlete today!]