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Missy Franklin edged by fellow freshman in Cal debut

Sep 21, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT

Missy Franklin Getty Images

Missy Franklin is not Queen of the Pool.

Franklin, the 16-time Olympic and world medalist, was beaten in her first college swim meet with Cal. Another Cal freshman, Celina Li, won the Cal Poly Queen of the Pool title over Franklin on Friday.

Li posted 4 minutes, 43.10 seconds combined over a pentathlon of events — 100-yard butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle and 100 individual medley. She nipped Franklin by .12 of a second. Li, 18, was sixth in the 200-meter IM at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.

“IM is definitely not my strong suit,” said Franklin, 18, who has only raced backstroke and freestyle at major international meets, in a video interview with the Santa Maria Times. “I was definitely just getting out there to race today.

“I can’t even put it into words. It was my first time racing in a Cal suit with a Cal cap on. I feel like it’s now officially official. It’s really happened. I’m a part of this team.”

Olympic and world relay champions Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma were third and fourth, respectively.

Franklin’s already being recognized on campus at Berkeley. Cal sophomore swimmer Josh Prenot said he has a psychology class with Franklin, where people come up outside the classroom doors to ask for autographs and pictures.

“She’s so nice about it,” Prenot said, according to the Santa Maria Times. “She’ll sign every single person’s thing and take pictures with anyone.”

Cal finishes up its first meet in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, then travels to Oregon State and hosts Washington State in dual meets the next two Fridays.

The Franklin effect is already clear.

“It’s a little weird to see so many fans came this year,” Prenot said of King/Queen of the Pool. “There were not many people here last year. But everyone came out to see Missy.”

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