Double duty for Missy Franklin at US Swimming Championships

Washington: Missy Franklin was gearing up for double duty at the US Swimming Championships on Thursday, but Ryan Lochte opted out of the 200m free final to focus on backstroke.

Both stars -- who headlined the action with Michael Phelps having a day off -- qualified for their 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle finals although Lochte perhaps cut it a bit closer than he would have liked in the 200m back with the seventh-fastest time of the morning.

Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary led the way into the men`s backstroke final with a time of 1:56.97. Lochte, who counted the 200m back among his three gold medals at last year`s world championships, clocked 1:59.02.

Lochte, whose training this season was disrupted by his recovery from a knee injury, was a more comfortable third-fastest qualifier in the 200m freestyle, but later scratched from that final.

Franklin, who followed up her four-gold performance at the London Olympics with six wins at last year`s world champoinships, settled for the second-fastest time in the heats of both the 200m back and 200m free.

Katie Ledecky followed up her win in the 800m free on Wednesday night by leading the way into the 200m free final with a time of 1:55.75.

That was the fourth-fastest time in the world this year and a lifetime best for the 17-year-old, who in June lowered her own world records in both the 800m and 1,500m free but said this week she considers herself a freestyle specialist rather than just a distance swimmer.

Franklin was second-fastest in 1:57.83, but American record-holder Allison Schmitt was shut out of the final, posting the 11th-fastest time of the morning.Elizabeth Beisel was the top qualifier in the women`s 200m backstroke with a time of 2:07.64, followed by Franklin in 2:09.81.

Beisel is looking to reclaim the 200m back national title she won in 2009, 2010 and 2011, which Franklin -- now the world record-holder -- has captured in each of the past two years.

The championships are the selection meet for the Pan Pacific Championships August 21-25 in Gold Coast, Australia -- the biggest international meet for US swimmers this year.

Results from this week and the PanPacs will determine the US team for next year`s World Championships in Russia.

Both Lochte and Franklin punched their PanPacs tickets on Wednesday, Franklin with a 100m free victory and Lochte with a runner-up finish in the men`s 100 free.

Olympic great Phelps, however, finished a distant seventh after a botched turn in the 100m free, and will be trying to earn a PanPacs place in the 100m butterfly on Friday.

The 29-year-old, whose 22 Olympic medals include an incredible 18 gold, is also scheduled to swim the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley this week in his fourth meet since coming out of a near two-year retirement in April.

In other heats Thursday, Kevin Cordes topped the 200m breaststroke times in 2:07.86 -- third-fastest in the world this year behind the 2:07.30 and 2:07.79 posted by Scotland`s Ross Murdoch and Michael Jamieson in their one-two Commonwealth Games finish.

Micah Lawrence topped the women`s 200m breaststroke qualifying in 2:23.71.

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