Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin edged by fellow freshman in Cal debut

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Missy Franklin is not Queen of the Pool.

Franklin, the 16-time Olympic and world medalist, was beaten in her first college swim meet with Cal. Another Cal freshman, Celina Li, won the Cal Poly Queen of the Pool title over Franklin on Friday.

Li posted 4 minutes, 43.10 seconds combined over a pentathlon of events — 100-yard butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle and 100 individual medley. She nipped Franklin by .12 of a second. Li, 18, was sixth in the 200-meter IM at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.

“IM is definitely not my strong suit,” said Franklin, 18, who has only raced backstroke and freestyle at major international meets, in a video interview with the Santa Maria Times. “I was definitely just getting out there to race today.

“I can’t even put it into words. It was my first time racing in a Cal suit with a Cal cap on. I feel like it’s now officially official. It’s really happened. I’m a part of this team.”

Olympic and world relay champions Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma were third and fourth, respectively.

Franklin’s already being recognized on campus at Berkeley. Cal sophomore swimmer Josh Prenot said he has a psychology class with Franklin, where people come up outside the classroom doors to ask for autographs and pictures.

“She’s so nice about it,” Prenot said, according to the Santa Maria Times. “She’ll sign every single person’s thing and take pictures with anyone.”

Cal finishes up its first meet in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, then travels to Oregon State and hosts Washington State in dual meets the next two Fridays.

The Franklin effect is already clear.

“It’s a little weird to see so many fans came this year,” Prenot said of King/Queen of the Pool. “There were not many people here last year. But everyone came out to see Missy.”

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Katie Ledecky beaten in NCAA Championships individual medley

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Katie Ledecky lost an NCAA Championships race for the first time in eight career finals, taking second in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday.

Stanford teammate Ella Eastin easily beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds and grabbed the American and NCAA records from Ledecky, too. Eastin’s 3:54.60 is 1.93 seconds faster than Ledecky’s time from the Pac-12 Championships last month.

How did she do it?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Eastin said on ESPNU. “I’ve built a lot of endurance this year, and it really showed.”

Eastin is decorated in her own right. She three-peated as NCAA 400-yard IM champion and held the American record in the event before Ledecky lowered it last month.

Eastin would have made the 2017 World Championships team had she not been disqualified for an illegal turn after finishing in second place at nationals.

Ledecky, a sophomore, has never contested the 400m IM at a U.S. Championships, Olympics or world championships, nor did she race the 400-yard IM at 2017 NCAAs. She raced the 400 IM instead of the 200 freestyle on Friday.

All of Ledecky’s races at major meets before Friday were in freestyle events. Her only defeat in a major international meet individual final was the 200m freestyle at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky won five NCAA titles last year and the last two nights anchored the 800-yard freestyle relay and captured the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds.

Meet results are here.

Later Friday, Lilly King of Indiana three-peated in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking her American and NCAA records and winning in 56.25 seconds. King is also the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, plus the world-record holder.

“Always excited to get the record, but was really hoping to break 56 today,” King said.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford became the second woman after Missy Franklin to break 1:40 in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:39.80. Co-Olympic 100m free champ Simone Manuel of Stanford was third. Comerford and Ledecky tied for the 2017 NCAA 200 free title.

Stanford’s Ally Howe won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.70, one hundredth shy of her NCAA and American records. Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist Kathleen Baker of Cal-Berkeley was third.

NCAAs conclude Saturday. Ledecky swims the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is the overwhelming favorite, having gone 35 seconds faster than anyone this season.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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World vault champion out for all of 2018

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Maria Paseka, a two-time world vault champion and four-time Olympic medalist, said she is out for the rest of the year after December back surgery, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Paseka, 22, earned the lone Russian title at worlds in October, repeating as champion on vault by edging American Jade Carey by .084. She handed Simone Biles her only defeat in a 2015 Worlds final, also on vault.

Paseka also took vault silver and bronze medals at the last two Olympics, as well as helping Russia to team silvers in London and Rio.

As Paseka is sidelined, Russia’s two other recent headliners are on the comeback trail.

Viktoria Komova, the all-around silver medalist at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics who missed Rio due to a back injury, competed in December for the first time since 2015.

Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist with two uneven bars golds, is expected to return to competition this spring from June childbirth.

The world championships are in Doha in October.

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