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Franklin's Backstroke Wins Her First Olympic Gold


American swimmer Missy Franklin is back in the Olympic pool in London this evening for her third race in two days. The 17-year-old from Colorado is being cast as America's next great swimming star. As NPR's Howard Berkes reports, she fit the bill last night with her first gold medal.

HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: Long and lean and so incredibly giddy about swimming in the Olympics, Missy Franklin didn't disappoint when she swam 100 meters of backstroke last night.


BERKES: In the final few strokes, Franklin pulled past Australian Emily Seebohm, who had led the race from the start.


BERKES: Franklin's long hair was still wet and stringy when she arrived for her post-race news conference, her newly won medal nowhere in sight.

Where's your medal?

MISSY FRANKLIN: In my pocket.

BERKES: Can we see it?

FRANKLIN: Yes. It's right here. Isn't it pretty?


BERKES: With a gold medal behind her and three individual races ahead, including one tonight, Franklin seems to be the new best hope for American swimming. But she can't get past the oh-my-gosh moments of her first Olympic gold. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes as the national anthem played after the race. She described what she was thinking at that moment.

FRANKLIN: It was absolutely unbelievable. I was trying to sing, but I was, like, crying at the same time. And then I, like, forgot the words because I didn't know what I was doing. And just seeing that flag being raised, all of the things that I've gone through passed through my mind, just the early morning wake-ups, the practices, the doubles, all the meets, just everything kind of leading up to that moment. And it was so unbelievably worth it.

BERKES: Recently out of braces and still in high school in Aurora, Colorado, Franklin was asked whether she'd accept the endorsement offers that are sure to come. You could make millions, a reporter told her.

FRANKLIN: I do want to swim in college more than anything, but not thinking about that right now. It's only day three. We still have five more to go. So, waiting until the end of the meet, definitely not worrying about that right now. But we'll see what happens for sure. But swimming collegiately is something that I've always wanted to do and have a passion for.

BERKES: The immediate swimming to come includes the 200 freestyle tonight, the 100 freestyle tomorrow and Thursday, the 200 freestyle Friday and a relay Friday and Saturday. But Missy Franklin says she'll let the victory soak in and rest this morning before pouring it on again. Howard Berkes, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Howard Berkes is a correspondent for the NPR Investigations Unit.

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