Blueseventy Swim of the Week: Missy Franklin silences doubts with five digits: 1:39.10


Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks some as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

For someone with an extensive resume through club, high school, college and international swimming, Missy Franklin arrived at the 2015 NCAA meet with a surprising amount to prove.

Despite being on the very short list of the world’s best all-around female swimmers, Franklin still faced questions about her continued improvement going forward, coming off of basically a full calendar year marked with adversity and bad breaks.

There was the 2014 NCAAs, where Franklin’s stellar 200 free was, for some, overshadowed by losses in two other “off” events, including a 500 free where Franklin led with 50 yards to go but was run down in a big way by Georgia’s Brittany MacLean. In addition, though Franklin went lifetime-bests in all three races, her Cal squad was roundly disappointing, an insanely-talented roster underperforming, losing a shot at the national title and being relegated to a surprise battle for second by the final day.

Then there was the summer of 2014, where Franklin was hit with debilitating back spasms and was only able to take home a single bronze medal individually.

The doubters weren’t necessarily many, but they were loud. (Avid SwimSwam commenters will probably remember a few of their screen names). Had Franklin plateaued? Was the move to Berkeley actually a setback in the career of USA Swimming’s rising icon?

Though we’ll have to wait for long course action this summer to really know for sure, Franklin’s performances at NCAAs last week offered a pretty resounding answer. In particular, one 5-digit time serves as a cipher-code for the phrase “Missy’s back!” (It might also mean “She never really went anywhere at all”). That 5-digit code: 1:39.10.

1:39.10, of course, is the earth-shattering time from Franklin’s NCAA championship swim in the 200 free. In a meet full of astounding, record-breaking performances, it’s very easy to argue that this swim is head and shoulders above the rest.

Franklin broke the American record by 1.2 seconds, a gigantic amount in high-level swimming. Since Missy set the record at last year’s NCAAs, it also counts as a 1.2-second drop, a great indicator of Franklin’s improvement as a swimmer over the tough past 12 months.

With that swim, Franklin becomes the fastest 200 freestyler in history by a full second and a half. She won the event by almost two and a half, swimming against another of the fastest freestylers in history, Simone Manuel.

Probably most impressive was the way Franklin vaulted below the 1:40-barrier. There was a lot of speculation that Franklin could go 1:39 this season, but most predictions had her barely cracking the barrier – a prediction of 1:39.10 pre-meet would have probably been labeled some adjective between “very optimistic” and “highly unrealistic.”

Even more important to Franklin, though, was that her swim sparked the Cal Bears to ultimately do as a team what they couldn’t in her freshman season, and the bubbly Olympian got to close out her college career at the top of the NCAA podium.

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What was the record before Missy took it? And from whom did she take it? It’s kind of a blur…


Pre-Missy, the record was Megan Romano, 1:41.21 from 2012.
Since Missy went 1:40 last year, two others have been under the Romano record (Simone last week with 1:41.1 and Schmitty in Austin last month with 1:40.6)

bobo gigi

When you break a record from Missy Franklin by one second, it means that you’ve done something very special.
Missy will perhaps rebreak her own record in the future (if she swims again in yards fully tapered one day, which is unlikely), but her NCAA record will stand at least one century.

And once again, I want to watch that race!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the other records too!!!!!!!!!!!


bobo are you kidding me?? It’s a fast swim but nowhere as special as you’re trying to make it out to be.

I guarantee you it’ll only last a year if not less! 2 young student-athletes from Stanford will break this record easily very soon.

Fact. Simone was only 0.06 behind Franklin at Pac 12’s. Just 0.01 at NCAA’s in the morning.

Another fact. Have you forgotten the greatest swimmer in the world? I’m referring to Katie Ledecky of course!

Both these superstars are already breathing down Franklin’s neck in an event which is not within their typical range.

They are younger and have a much bigger upside than Franklin who had already hit her peak back in 2011.


SwimNerd, you say that Simone was close by at Pac12’s and NCAA prelims. But what do the final times show? that Missy is TWO FULL SECONDS ahead of Simone and Katie right now. Those earlier races may have looked close on paper, but MIssy knew how to throw down where it counted, at the NCAA finals. Simone isn’t breathing down her neck in the 200 free, she’s breathing two body lengths behind MIssy’s wake. Ledecky is the only one that could possibly take it down before she’s done with serious SCY swimming, and even then it probably won’t be her freshman or sophomore years. She has 2.5 seconds to drop to catch MIssy’s time. Now granted, Bobo may have exaggerated… Read more »


You’re saying Missy Franklin hit her peak in 2011??? I’m sorry but no way. Missy has not hit her peak.

bad parent

How DARE you say a negative comment about our deity Mrs Franklin. Down votes!!! Down votes!!! The only correct answer is Missy is the first and only every person ever created in the whole of man kind!!!!! Repent!!!!


I’m a huge Ledecky fan, but I don’t think she has the speed (right now) to touch that record. Missy took it out about a half second faster than Ledecky’s best 100 time, and though Ledecky might have a monster back half, Missy’s was still pretty solid.


Did not get to see the race, is there any video?


Nothing on youtube so far (thanks to the copyright watchdogs).

ESPNU will broadcast an edited version of the Women’s NCAA’s on the 31st. So there’s a chance we’ll get to see some of these historic races online after then…

bobo gigi

Please yes! If an American can post the ESPNU video replays on youtube…. It would be so nice for people outside of USA! 🙂

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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