Missy Franklin broke her American record in the 200-yard freestyle by 1.21 seconds to capture her second individual NCAA title in as many days in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday night.
“I can’t even believe that,” Franklin, a sophomore in her last college meet, said on ESPN3. “I want to finish with a bang. I’ve been thinking about that [record] literally all season, so to finally get it, words don’t describe.”
Franklin, a five-time 2012 Olympic medalist, will turn professional after NCAAs, which finish Saturday. They are her final meet as a California Bears swimmer.
On Friday, Franklin clocked 1:39.1 in the 200-yard freestyle, beating second-place Simone Manuel of Stanford by 2.35 seconds. Manuel was the fastest U.S. woman in the 100m freestyle last year. London Olympian Lia Neal, also of Stanford, was third Friday.
“I never really celebrate after races, and tonight I was just like, did I just fist pump?” Franklin told media in Greensboro. “Did that just happen?”
Her coach, Teri McKeever, said she thought before the race that Franklin would break the record. She just didn’t know by how much..
“I just told her, ‘Go make ’em remember you,'” McKeever said. “That might be a swim [record] that can stick around for a while.”
Franklin’s previous American record, from last year’s NCAA Championships, was 1:40.31. Franklin showed Friday that she’s improved from last season, key as she suffered back spasms that slowed her at last year’s biggest meet, the Pan Pacific Championships in August.
Franklin also won the 200-yard individual medley at NCAAs on Thursday.
NCAA meets are contested in 25-yard pools. The Olympics and this summer’s World Championships are held in 50-meter pools.