Franklin helps U.S. women take medley gold

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LONDON -- Missy Franklin capped off a brilliant Olympic debut Saturday night by helping the U.S. take gold in the women's 400 medley relay -- with a world-record time, no less.

The 17-year-old Franklin, who will begin her senior year of high school when she gets back to Colorado, seems destined to be America's new star in the post-Michael Phelps era after taking four golds, tying Amy Van Dyken at the 1996 Atlanta Games for the most by a U.S. female swimmer.

The youngster also picked up a bronze while swimming seven events -- the same number as Phelps.

And let's not forget Allison Schmitt, another swimmer with ties to Phelps. They trained together over the past year in Baltimore, becoming fast friends with all their goofy antics.

But they sure took care of business in the pool, with Schmitt winning three golds, a silver and a bronze in London.

The Americans dominated the medal count at the pool, finishing with 16 golds and 30 medals overall.

Franklin grabbed the lead right away in the backstroke, Rebecca Soni stretched out the advantage in the breast, Dana Vollmer cruised through the fly and Schmitt finished it off in the free, pulling away for a time of 3:52.05, beating the mark of 3:52.19 set by China at the 2009 world championships.

It was the second world record of the night and ninth of the Olympic meet, proving that fast times are still possible even without banned high-tech bodysuits.

China's Sun Yang sprinted to the finish of the sport's most grueling race to crush the world record he already held in the 1,500 freestyle, putting his own stamp on the games with a stunning time of 14:31.02. That beat his mark from last year's world championships by 3.12 seconds.

Sun captured his second gold of the meet, adding to a gold in the 400 free. He also tied for the silver in the 200 free, and was part of the bronze medal-winning team in the 4x200 free relay.

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For a brief moment, it appeared Sun might not even get a chance to swim the race. Hearing a whistle in the crowd, he dived into the water before the starter's gun, while everyone else remained on the blocks. Yang glanced at the starter with a confused look, got back out of the pool and waited to see if he would be disqualified.

"I could not hear the judge because there was noise in the venue," Sun said through an interpreter. The starter gave him a do-over. No one else was close to Sun, who was going faster at the end than he was at the beginning.

Canada's Ryan Cochrane took second in 14:39.63, while defending Olympic champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia settled for bronze in 14:40.31.

In a night featuring the long and short of swimming, Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands won the women's 50 freestyle to complete a sweep of the sprints.

Having already won the 100 free, Kromowidjojo clocked an Olympic-record 24.05 in the furious, one-lap dash. Defending champion Britta Steffen of Germany went 24.06 in Beijing four years ago in a now-banned bodysuit.

Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus touched in 24.28 for the silver medal and another Dutchwoman, Marleen Veldhuis, finished in 24.39 for bronze. Steffen, who swept the sprints in Beijing, finished fourth.

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