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Sunday July 1, 2012 Beisel will look to claim second Olympic spot Sunday night

Updated: 1:31am, July 1

Elizabeth Beisel OMAHA, Neb. -- Elizabeth Beisel guaranteed herself a spot on her second U.S. Olympic team Monday, the opening day of the trials, by winning the women’s 400-meter individual medley, the event she won at the 2011 World Championships.

Anything after that was going to be red, white and blue gravy.

That’s why Beisel, who just finished her sophomore season with the Gators, was beaming after posting a time of 2:08.41 in the 200-meter backstroke semifinals Saturday night at the CenturyLink Center. It was good enough to easily qualify for Sunday night’s championship heat, where she’ll be seeded second behind American record-holder Missy Franklin, who went 2:07.91

“It gave me confidence heading into tomorrow night,” Beisel said.

Not that she didn't have any to begin with. Beisel won the 200 back at the 2012 NCAA Championships. In two years at UF, she's garnered nine All-America honors and 10 All-Southeastern Conference honors. Before that, at 15, she was the youngest member of the U.S. team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Swimming in high cotton is nothing new for her.

Florida coach Gregg Troy recruited and signed Beisel out of Kingstown, R.I. So suffice to say he was pleased to see his top female swimmer -- the only UF women’s team member headed to London -- picking up where her collegiate season left off and performing under pressure to put herself in position to claim a second Olympic spot.

“She was tremendous,” Troy said Saturday. “That’s one of the best races I think she’s ever had. She was calm, very collected. Missy Franklin is very good and has got a little more speed, so we have to swim exactly right to have a chance to beat her. But I think it’ll be a good race [Sunday].”

Having gone against Franklin Saturday, Beisel hopes that will help her in Sunday’s rematch.

“Anytime you get a chance to race Missy, it’s something you want to take advantage of,” Beisel said. “I think everyone can learn from the way she races.”

That would include 18-year-old Sierra Kuhn, an incoming freshman for the Gators from Verona, Wis. Kuhn qualified for the 200 back semifinals -- in the same heat as Beisel and Franklin -- but at 2:12.79 she just missed the No. 8 spot in the final by .42 of a second.

Something to build on for her rookie season at UF, Troy said.

“Very personable young lady,” he said. “I think there’s a tremendous upside to her. Swims lots of strokes. Really bright and bubbly personality. She’s going to help us.”  

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