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Missy Franklin to miss U.S., world championships

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Missy Franklin will not swim at the U.S. Championships in two weeks, ruling her out of the world championships in July, as she works her way back from winter shoulder surgeries.

Franklin, a four-time 2012 Olympic champion, said she made the decision after talking with her coach, Dave Durden, at the University of California.

“If I had a deadline to try and get better by, we were really worried that that would rush things and that could really impact the quality of the therapy and the work that we were trying to do getting back,” Franklin said Monday. “I think both of us were very concerned with quality and wanting to make sure that we’re doing the best that we can right now.”

Franklin will not swim in major summer competition at the senior level for the first time since 2009, when she was 14 years old.

“I’m going to have some serious FOMO [fear of missing out],” Franklin said with her signature laugh. “It really hasn’t hit me yet.”

Franklin, 22, underwent left shoulder surgery in January due to bursitis. Soon after getting back in the water, she needed right shoulder surgery for the same issue.

Franklin said she felt shoulder pain as far back as last spring, according to the Denver Post, before she struggled at the Olympic Trials and the Rio Games. But she didn’t know if the shoulders were a cause for last summer’s results.

Franklin returned to swimming a few weeks after the second surgery and slowly upped her training load. She completed a full practice for the first time last month at Cal, where she has about three semesters’ worth of classes left to graduate. Her shoulders feel “awesome” now.

I want these shoulders to last me for a very long time,” Franklin said. “I really don’t want to rush anything. It’s been so nice for me to get back in the pool at my own pace.

“If this is the step back I need to take in order to take three forward, then that’s what I’m willing to do.”

Franklin plans to return to racing, “when I feel like I can give my best effort,” but she doesn’t know when.

In the interim, she has more time to devote to SafeSpash Swim Schools and the USA Swimming Foundation’s “Make a Splash” programs.

“Potentially giving [children] a skill that will help save their live is one of the most important things I’ll ever do,” Franklin said.

Another goal is to “have the most average 22-year-old summer I can possibly have,” she said. “I’ve never had a normal summer before.”

It was this summer in the previous Olympic cycle when Franklin became the biggest star in the sport.

She won a female-record six gold medals at the 2013 World Championships before enrolling in college.

“That’s something that really stays with me on the days that recovery’s really hard and those doubts creep into your mind and you wonder if you’ll ever get to that point again,” she said. “It’s those tough days when I kind of think back to the things that I accomplished that I never really thought I would be able to do. I can sort of reflect on that and be proud of those things and know that I really am capable of doing whatever it is that I set my mind to.”

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Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships

Alysia Montano
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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced four months pregnant in 110-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

In a Wonder Woman top, she gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative for people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. … I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

In the men’s 800m, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

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Lilly King to be less vocal on Yuliya Efimova topic this summer

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Expect to see Lilly King and Yuliya Efimova resume their breaststroke rivalry at the world championships next month.

It will look very different than in Rio, when King became a vocal opponent of doping and directed some of her words at the formerly suspended Russian Efimova.

“This summer, I’m not going to talk about everything that happened last summer,” King said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I spoke my piece. I’ve said everything I need to say.”

Her focus needs to stay in the pool, where she must finish first or second at the USA Swimming National Championships next week to make it to worlds (broadcast schedule here).

King said in May her goal is to break world records at worlds in Budapest in July.

She may need to in order to defeat Efimova like in Rio.

Efimova has the fastest 100m breast time in the world this year, a 1:04.82 set on Sunday. The national record put her No. 3 on the all-time list (and .09 faster than King’s winning time in Rio).

King is in third place this year at 1:06.20, though she spent all winter focusing on NCAA competition in 25-yard pools.

In Rio, King said Efimova shouldn’t have been allowed to compete given her doping history.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1, 2016, and was absolved along with other athletes.

King memorably finger-wagged at an image of Efimova on a TV in the ready room before her 100m breast semifinal and relegated the Russian to silver the following the night.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last November, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

King struggled with her newfound fame after she returned home last summer, sobbing in a winter meeting with her University of Indiana coach, Ray Looze, according to the Indianapolis Star:

It was so hard to do normal activities in her hometown – go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant – that she considered wearing a wig to disguise herself. Her likeness was on a bingo card at a fall festival, so people purposely looked for her. When in Evansville now, she said, she looks at the ground so no one will recognize her. After an initial wave of attention on IU’s campus, she can walk around without interruption.

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