OMAHA – Missy Franklin didn’t offer any excuses Tuesday. The defending Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 100-meter backstroke graciously praised the victors and smiled after her seventh-place finish, putting a brave face on what has been a challenging Olympic trials.
Franklin, whose four golds made her a worldwide star at the 2012 London Games, has been struggling in Omaha. In addition to missing a chance to repeat in the 100 back in Rio, she finished fourth in the semifinals of the women’s 200 freestyle Tuesday at CenturyLink Center. That won her a place in Wednesday’s finals, and though she said her 100 back Tuesday “just wasn’t good enough,’’ she is looking for better things in her remaining events.
“I think I’m feeling more pressure than I ever have before,’’ Franklin said. “But that’s all part of the process, learning how to deal with that and learning how to move forward. All I can do is the best I can do.
“Right now, I need to make the [Olympic] team in whatever way that looks like. I need to make the team, and I’m going to do my best.’’
Olivia Smoliga, who won the 100 back, remained in awe of Franklin despite the outcome.
“I don’t even think she is struggling,’’ Smoliga said. “She is so strong. And she’s going to have a hell of a meet for the rest of the week.’’
Franklin, 21, can accomplish that with a top-four finish in the 200 free. She also plans to swim the 200 back and 100 free at the trials.
Two from the U
Karlee Bispo, who trains at the U with a group of elite postgraduate swimmers, also swam a tough double Tuesday. Bispo advanced to the semifinals in the women’s 200 free and swam in the first heat at 6:51 p.m. She also moved on to the semis in the 200 individual medley, racing in heat 1 at 8:08.
Bispo, who swam the 12th-fastest time in the preliminaries of each race, finished 15th in the 200 IM and 16th in the 200 free. The Gophers’ Brooke Zeiger also made the semifinals of the 200 IM and placed 12th.
• Ryan Lochte remained in serious pain Tuesday but said he was happy to make the Olympic team. He finished fourth in the men’s 200 free, .96 behind winner Townley Haas. The top four in the 200 free make the roster for the relays. After pulling a groin muscle in his first race, Lochte finished third in the 400 IM. He plans to swim the 100 free on Wednesday.
“Every race hurts,’’ said Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist who will swim in his fourth Games. “You can’t hold back at all in any race, just because everyone is so strong.”
• A new feature at the trials: therapy dogs to help relieve athletes’ stress. A Nebraska organization that provides service, therapy and rescue dogs is bringing several canines to the pool each day, where they hang out in the athletes’ lounge.