Missy Franklin agonized over whether or not to swim her senior season for Regis Jesuit, but in the end the Olympic multi-gold medalist went with her heart and swam in two dual meets and last weekend's Class 5A championships.
“If I had to do it a hundred times over, I'd do it again,'' Franklin said. “I'm so, so happy that I made that decision.''
So are her Regis teammates. Franklin notched lopsided individual wins in “off'' events for her - a national high school record the 200-yard individual medley and a state record in the 500 freestyle - and anchored two winning relay teams to lead the Raiders to their second state title in three years.
“I couldn't think of a better way to end my high school career,'' said Franklin, hoarse from cheering on and the title celebration with her teammates. “Just being able to swim with a Regis cap on my head, that's what I'm going to remember the most.''
Franklin finished her career with eight individual titles (three in the 100 backstroke, two in the 50 and one in the 200 in addition to the IM and 500) and state records in the backstroke, IM and 50, 100, 200 and 500 freestyles. She capped her career by breaking records set last year by Cherry Creek's Bonnie Brandon in the IM and 500, but insisted swimming those two events “was never about the records.''
Franklin began her final prep meet by winning the IM in 1:56.85 (she set a state record of 1:58.22 in the prelims), besting runner-up Brooke Hansen of Loveland by almost 5 ½ seconds. She then broke Brandon's 500 record with a time of 4:41.72, her 13.26-second victory over Boulder's Amanda Richey sending Regis into first place past defending team champion Fossil Ridge, a lead it never relinquished.
Franklin anchored Regis' victorious 200 freestyle relay, then held off Fossil Ridge senior Rhianna Williams, who had repeated in the 50 (23.02) and 100 (49.90) freestyles, on the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay.
The Raiders, who were third in 2012, won with 287 points to Fossil Ridge's 243. Fairview was third with 181, and Arapahoe and Cherry Creek tied for fourth with 167.
Despite Franklin's dominance, the Raiders were far from a one-girl show. They placed seven swimmers in both the finals and consolation finals, with freshman Lindsay Painton going third in the backstroke (57.13) and fifth in the 100 (52.06). Sophomore Taylor Wilson was fourth in the 50 (24.24) and ninth in the 100 (53.01) and swam on both winning relays. Marielle Renehan took fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.44) and Delaney Lanker was eighth in the butterfly (57.42), and divers Austin Mckensi (447.45 points) and Kellyn Toole (417.55) placed fourth and eighth.
Regis' 200 medley relay (without Franklin) team was second to Fossil Ridge. The Raiders led going into the final leg, but Williams outkicked freshman Amy Lenderink.
“Painton for a freshman was awesome,'' said Regis coach Nick Frasiersmith. “And I can't say enough about our divers. That was the only event we had two in the top eight.''
“The entire team swam well,'' Frasiersmith added. “I'm a true believer that championships are made by what you do in the prelims. We did that, and our relays really stepped up. From third to first is a wonderful turnaround.''
Cherry Creek, which last won the team title in 2010 - its last in a streak of six straight and 13 of 16 - qualified for five individual finals but did not place higher than sixth. Senior Elaine Powell was sixth in the 50 (24.47) and eighth in the 100 (53.4). Colleen Wixted, another senior, was seventh in the 200 (1:53.67) and butterfly (57.10). The Bruins' best relay finish was fourth in the 400 freestyle.
The meet's other repeat winner was Loveland diver Micah Bower, who made it four straight, though her score of 486.15 points was short of last year's 515.10. Bower won by almost 32 points.
Ralston Valley's Erin Metzger-Seymour joined Franklin and Williams as double winners. The junior won the 200 freestyle in 1:49.92 and the butterfly in 54.91.
Other winners were Lewis-Palmer freshman Andie Turner in the backstroke (56.28) and Loveland sophomore Brooke Hansen in the breaststroke (1:03.35).