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Swimming: Franklin on track to follow in Phelps' footsteps

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

American teen swimming sensation Missy Franklin took another step towards matching Michael Phelps' eight gold medal haul from the Beijing Olympics five years ago at the swimming world championships in Barcelona on Monday.

The 18-year-old cruised into Tuesday's final of the 100 metres backstroke, registering the fastest time in the semi-finals of 59.31 seconds to suggest that she could even threaten Gemma Spofforth's world record from the world championships four years ago.

Records though are not her principal target.

"I haven't thought about the world record," she said. "I'm just going to go out there, swim and have fun. I think when you reduce it down to a number you lose what it's really all about."

What does matter to the four-time gold medallist from the London Olympics last year is medals and she was given extra motivation by bumping into Phelps in the Catalan capital.

The most decorated Olympian of all time is not competing in Barcelona after retiring following the London Games, but Franklin insists he still remains an inspiration.

"I saw him yesterday and that was wonderful. We miss him so much, the team isn't the same without him, but we still have an incredible team and I think we are all excited to carry on his legacy.

"He has created a path in swimming which is such a bright light and will continue to shine for years and years to come.

"His legacy speaks for itself and we have to try and create our own."

And that is exactly what the California born swimmer is doing as she also attempts to add the 50 and 200m backstroke, 100 and 200m freestyle and the 4x200m relay and 4x100m medley relay to her first world championship gold which she claimed with her US teammates in the 4x100m relay on Sunday evening.

Another demanding day for Franklin starts early on Tuesday morning with the 200m freestyle heats and all being well she'll have to return to the pool for the semi-finals of the same event just minutes after the 100m backstroke final later in the evening.

Just as in London, the American's main competition in the 100m backstroke is likely to come from Australian Emily Seebholm after she qualified in second with another of the USA's glittering array of female stars Elizabeth Pelton and Japan's Aya Terakawa also expected to be in the medal hunt.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130729/swimming-franklin-track-follow-phelps-footsteps