MacLean tops Franklin in legendary finish

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., had a big day Thursday at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships.

The 20-year-old, who swims for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, beat out American star Missy Franklin in the 500-yard freestyle. The California freshman and multiple Olympic medallist was in the lead but MacLean charged her down for the title.

MacLean’s NCAA record time of 4:32.53 was 0.13 faster than Franklin’s. She swam the final 100 in 52.98, including 25.81 over the final 50.

Braden Keith of SwimSwam.com referred to MacLean’s finish as “legendary closing speed.” Keith pointed out that it was a second and a half faster than American Katie Ledecky’s closing 100 when she set a US Open record of 4:28.71 last month.

It’s a great result for MacLean, who struggled with injuries last season after being a 2012 Olympic finalist in the 400-metre freestyle. MacLean was named Swimming Canada’s 2012 Junior Female Swimmer of the Year in honour of her outstanding Olympic debut.

The championships run through Saturday. After the NCAA season, MacLean will turn her focus to the Canadian Swimming Trials April 2-5 in Victoria, where she hopes to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships.

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