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W200Back: Missy The Missile On 2:05.10

Jul 30, 2011  - Craig Lord

Day 7 finals, Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai

Women's 200m backstroke

Melissa Franklin, the 16-year-old American coached by Todd Schmitz, set a new target for the best backstroke women of the world with a blistering 2:05.10 victory that saw her miss by just 0.29sec joining teammate Ryan Lochte in the club of post-bodysuit ban world-record breakers. It was a defining moment: no woman had ever cracked 2:06 in a textile suit until Franklin's 2:05.90 in semis.

The world mark in shiny suits belongs to Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) at 2:04.81, while the best seen in a a textile suit was just a day old, the new champion having booked lane 4 yesterday in 2:05.90.

The silver went to Belinda Hocking (AUS) in 2:06.06, the bronze to Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED) in 2:07.78, 0.04sec ahead of Daryna Zevina (RUS).

Franklin led from start to finish, 0.01sec inside world-record pace at the first turn, on 29.43, and 0.24sec outside Coventry's Rome 2009 pace at the half-way mark, on 1:01.15, Hocking closest but 1.09sec back, Van Rouwendaal last through in 1:03.26.

The Australian clawed back a little of the deficit on the third length with a 31.75 split, to 32.09 by the American. Now 0.43sec off Coventry's pace on the clock and sensing that Hocking was about to hit back hard coming off the last turn, Franklin, born in Pasadena, California and a member of the US team since she was 14, found another gear half-way to home. 

A 31.86 split delivered a 2:05.10 victory that marked the first time that a swimmer has moved to another league beyond the 1991 world record of 2:06.62 that had stood to Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN) until the eve of non-textile suits in February 2008, Coventry the first to break a world mark in polyurethane.

Her job done, "Missy the Missile" dashed back to the launch pad for the medley relays - and a second gold (see medley relay report).

The result:

  • 1. Melissa Franklin (USA) 2:05.10
  • 2. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:06.06
  • 3. Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) 2:07.78
  • 4. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:07.82
  • 5. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 2:08.16
  • 6. Meagen Nay (AUS) 2:08.69
  • 7. Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) 2:08.76
  • 8. Alexianne Castel (FRA) 2:09.07  

Splits compared:

  • 1991: 30.55; 1:02.34; 1:34.79; 2:06.62 Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN) WR Athens 1991
  • 2009: 29.44; 1:00.91; 1:32.81; 2:04.81 Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) WR Rome 2009
  • 2011: 29.43; 101.15; 1:33.24; 2:05.10 Melissa Franklin (USA) world textile best Shanghai 2011

History in the making:


  • WR (all suits):  2:04.81 Kirsty Coventry (ZIM)  
  • WR (textile):     2:05.10 Melissa Franklin (USA) July 30, 2011 Shanghai     
  • First woman inside 2:10:  Cornelia Sirch (GDR)* 2:09.92 Guayaquil August 7, 1982
  • First woman inside 2:09:  Betsy Mitchell (USA) 2:08.60 Orlando, June 27, 1986
  • First inside 2:08 &  2:07:  Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN) 2:06.62 Athens, August 25, 1991
  • First woman inside 2:06:  Melissa Franklin (USA) 2:05.90 Shanghai, July 29, 2011

World-class stats:

  • World Record wins: Birgit Treiber (GDR); Linda Jezek (USA); Cornelia Sirch (GDR); Kirsty Coventry (ZIM)
  • Title retained: Sirch
  • Biggest margin: Sirch beat Georgina Parkes (AUS) by 5.07sec in 1982
  • Closest shave: Sirch beat Betsy Mitchell (USA) by 0.02sec in 1986

From the archive:

Roxana Maracineanu (FRA), the 1998 champion of Romanian descent, was the toast of her adopted country: her 2:11.26 victory marked the first world swimming title for France. She won Olympic silver in 2000 and after retirement in 2004 took up a career as a sports journalist.