Missy Franklin emerged as the top qualifier from the fifth heat of the women's 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2 minutes, 7.54 seconds. Franklin won't be giving up that top spot in the finals on August 3 either, as she will handily take gold in this event.
The California-born swimmer took gold in the 200m backstroke in the 2011 World Championships and four other medals at the event. She has been on quite the role recently and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down during the London Games.
Perhaps the biggest rival to Franklin's gold-medal hopes is defending Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe. Coventry did some dominating of her own back in Beijing where she set the world record for this event en route to her fourth medal and only gold at the Games.
She wasn't able to make the cut for the finals at the 2011 World Championships but it seems Coventry rises to the occasion at the Summer Games because she finished second to Franklin in the fifth heat.
That's not to say that Franklin hasn't been busy setting world records of her own though, as she was a part of the U.S. 2011 Duel in the Pool team who broke the world record time in the 4x100-meter medley relay. The team of Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer, Rebecca Soni broke the previous world record by more than two seconds.
While it's difficult to compare medley results with individual results, that event did take place in December of last year, which goes to further the point that Franklin has been riding a wave of success all the way to the Olympic Games.
Alright, that might have been a pun-filled previous sentence, but you get the point. Swimming is one of Team USA's strongest, well, teams on both the men's and women's sides. Franklin is one of, if not the best, swimmers on the women's side and has everything it takes to capture gold in this event.
Coventry has proven her ability to win the 200m backstroke in years past, but hasn't done so on the world level since winning the gold at the World Championships in 2009. Sure, she still holds the world record time, and she did qualify right behind Franklin; but it's been a while since Coventry took gold on the world stage.
This isn't a two-woman race by any means, and there will be other swimmers who could potentially challenge Franklin, but she's the favorite for good reason heading into the finals.
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