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Can Missy Franklin Catch Michael Phelps?

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Assuming Michael Phelps doesn’t race in Rio, he will end his Olympic career with 22 medals. His 18 golds will surely not be caught until I and everyone reading this are long gone, if ever. But it is possible that 22 medals could be caught by an athlete who starts young enough, wins young enough, and has as many opportunities to win a medal as swimmers have.

Enter Missy Franklin. The 17 year old won 5 medals in London (4 golds) and narrowly missed out on two others, placing 4th and 5th in her other two events. Franklin has one major disadvantage in the chase to 22: her program is limited to two strokes, the backstroke and the freestyle, thus limiting the total medals available. Of course, seeing how Ryan Lochte broke down under the challenge of swimming such a daunting program, perhaps it is best for Franklin to pick and choose her spots. Besides, if she keeps her same program that gives her a shot at 7 medals per Olympics.

Considering she finished 6th in the 100 freestyle by a long margin she may want to ditch that (then again, at the 2011 Worlds she swam the second fastest split in the 4×100 relay). She also swam the fastest freestyle leg of the medley relay at the 2011 Worlds. And though she finished 5th in London in the 200 free her relay split at the 2011 Worlds would have won the 200m gold medal there. There’s obviously a lot of difference between a relay split and individual race, but the talent for medals are there.

In 4 years, Franklin will be 21. I am confident in saying she will medal in both backstrokes, the medley relay and the 4×200 relay for sure. As for the other events, let’s investigate further: Read more…