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July 24, 2017

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Americans dominate at Duel in the Pool

ATLANTA--Missy Franklin took a break from studying for her high school exams to anchor a world-record time in the very first race of the night.

With that, the Americans were off to another dominating performance at Duel in the Pool.

Led by the 16-year-old Franklin and longtime American stars Ryan Lochte and Natalie Coughlin, the Americans won 12 of the 14 events Friday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center and are well on their way to staying unbeaten in the Duel series.

The scoreboard said it all: United States 93.5, Europe 28.5.

"When you're setting a world record, it still feels like the first time," said Franklin, a breakout star at the world championships this past summer and on course to be one of the biggest names at next summer's London Olympics. "I'm so excited. It's awesome."

The Colorado teenager already took her exams in math, physics and theology before traveling to Atlanta, but she's still got U.S. history and American literature next week when she gets back home.

"I made note cards on the way here to help me study," the bubbly Franklin said, breaking into a big smile that never seems to leave her face. "I like being a student. I like going to school every day."

The tone was set in the opening event, the women's 400-meter medley relay. Coughlin got the Americans off to a quick start in the backstroke, Rebecca Soni blazed through her signature breaststroke, Dana Vollmer kept it going in the butterfly, and Franklin finished strong in the freestyle for a time of 3 minutes, 45.56 seconds.

That crushed the previous record of 3:47.97, set by the Americans at the 2009 Duel in the Pool just before high-tech racing suits were banned by the international governing body.

"We have four really great girls in that relay," said Coughlin, who also set an American record in the 100 back with her leadoff leg. "We were confident going in, and that definitely helped us get the world record."

Turns out, the Americans were just getting warmed up.

Lochte won the 400 individual medley and 200 back despite being in the middle of his toughest training. Coughlin also picked up an individual win in the 100 back and finished third in the 100 free. Franklin added to her relay world record by touching first in the 200 back. Soni cruised to a nearly 2-second win over teammate Amanda Beard in the 200 breast.

"When I get to this point," Lochte said, glancing out at the racing pool, "I hate to lose."

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