Four-time Olympic champion Missy Franklin just missed a pair of titles at her first night of the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Franklin, an 18-year-old freshman at Cal, finished second in the 500-yard freestyle, getting passed over the final two of 20 laps in the 25-yard pool by Georgia sophomore Brittany MacLean.
MacLean posted 4 minutes, 32.53 seconds, an NCAA record. Franklin came in .13 behind after leading by .51 after 450 yards.
MacLean, like Franklin, swam at the 2012 Olympics. The Canadian finished seventh in the 400m freestyle in London. She was 18 then, four years younger than anyone else in that final.
Franklin also took second as the third leg of Cal’s 200 free relay team, 25 minutes before the 500 free final. Stanford won that race, aided by 2012 Olympian Lia Neal.
The 500 free was the toughest of Franklin’s three individual events she’s expected to swim this weekend. Her best freestyle event, in Olympic pools, is the 200m free.
She’s better known for her backstrokes, having swept the 100 and 200 backs at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships. Cal is deep in backstrokes, making Franklin more valuable to the team in freestyles, which she has focused on this season.
Franklin entered NCAAs as the No. 2 seed in the 500 free and was second fastest in Thursday’s preliminaries, behind MacLean.
In the final, Franklin took the lead near the halfway point but never led by more than .55 after any of the 50-yard splits.
Franklin is expected to swim the 200 free on Friday and the 100 free on Saturday. Cal is looking to win its fourth team national title in six years. Georgia clipped Cal in 2013.