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Franklin struggles, Phelps on Friday

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Franklin struggles, Phelps on Friday

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GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) – World champion Missy Franklin failed to qualify for the 200-meter freestyle final after making a late decision to compete despite a sore back on the opening morning of the Pan Pacific Championships.
A half-hour later, she was back in the pool and swam fast enough to advance in the 100-metre backstroke, an event she won at the London Olympics. She had to overcome nerves just to start her second race today, and later said she considered it a successful morning regardless of the mixed results.
Katie Ledecky led qualifiers in the 200 free in 1 minute. 56.45 seconds, with Australia’s Melanie Schlanger second-fastest in 1:57. 29 and Shannon Vreeland in 1:57:40. Franklin had the fourth-quickest time across the five heats but was behind U.S. teammates Ledecky and Vreeland.
At the Pan Pacs, predominantly featuring teams from Australia, Japan, Canada and the U.S., only the two fastest swimmers from each country make the A final.
Franklin, who won six gold medals at the world titles last year, had back spasms in training on Tuesday and was in doubt for the meet until she completed her warm up ahead of her two events in the first session.
In the backstroke, she was the fastest of the U.S. qualifiers in 1:00.60, finishing just behind Australian pair Emily Seebohm and Belinda Hocking.
In other events, Kosuke Hagino of Japan was fastest in the men’s 200 free in 1:46.60, narrowly ahead of American Conor Dwyer, Australian pair Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Cameron McEvory and U.S. veteran Ryan Lochte, a five-time Olympic gold medallist.
Lochte said the windy outdoor conditions weren’t really a factor on a bright morning, but he was glad to get his first race over and done with because it’s always his worst of a meet.
Americans went 1-2 in the 100 backstroke, with Matt Grevers setting a meet record in 52.91 seconds and Ryan Murphy finishing in 53.24.
Michael Phelps, the 18-time Olympic gold medallist who is competing in his first international championship since coming out of retirement, is due to start his programme in the 100 freestyle tomorrow.