U.S. Swimmers Earn Two Gold at FINA World Championships
BARCELONA – United States swimmers won two gold medals and set two American records Sunday at the 15th FINA World Championships. The U.S. medaled in each of the four finals contested on the first night of competition at Palau Sant Jordi.
Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) won the first gold and set the first record, taking the women’s 400m freestyle in an American-record time of 3:59.82. Her time shattered the former American record of 4:01.77, set by Allison Schmitt at last year’s London Games, by nearly two seconds. It missed the world record of 3:59.15, set at the 2009 World Championships in Rome by Italian Federica Pellegrini, by 67-hundredths.
Ledecky led the race from start to finish, building her distance on the rest of the field with each length of the pool. She was ahead of world-record pace through the 300-meter mark, but fell off pace by 15-hundredths heading into the last 50 meters.
“I just got into it, and I’m still in shock over the time,” Ledecky said. “I didn’t know really how fast I was going, but it just shows what happens when you get in a race with the best in the world. It was such an honor to be in the heat with those girls. We all pushed each other, and it felt really good.”
Spain’s Melanie Schmid took that honor, winning silver in front of her home crowd in 4:02.47. Lauren Boyle of New Zealand won bronze in 4:03.89.
Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colo.), Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.), Shannon Vreeland (Overland Park, Kansas) and Megan Romano (St. Petersburg, Fla.) won the second gold, coming from behind in the women’s 4x100m free relay to set an American record in 3:32.31. Their time was also nearly two seconds faster than the former American record of 3:34.24, set by last year’s Olympic Team.
After a blistering lead-off from Australia’s Kate Campbell, the U.S. played catch-up with the Aussies the rest of the way. The U.S.’s Megan Romano came from seven-tenths of a second behind in the final leg of the race to nip Australians by 12-hundredths. The Netherlands took third in 3:55.77.
It marked the first time the U.S. women have won this event at a World Championships since 2003.
Olympian Connor Jaeger (Fair Haven, N.J.) took home a bronze medal in the men’s 400m freestyle, earning his first-ever international medal. His medal was the first one for the U.S. in the pool Sunday.
Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang of China led the field from the 100-meter mark, but Jaeger maintained contact from lane 1, flipping in second or third place at each turn through 350 meters. Sun finished first in 3:41.59 and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino was second in 3:44.82, while Jaeger touched three-hundredths of a second behind in 3:44.85.
Jaeger’s performance marked the first time in the last nine World Championships that an American has medaled in this event.
“It was the first international medal for me,” Jaeger said. “You might think that I only got third, but I feel like I won. Seeing a number three next to my name, I was really ecstatic. Knowing I was the only American in the final, I wanted to do something really good for Team USA. It was the first final of the meet. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more tonight. I think it’s going to be a good night for us.”
The men’s 4x100m relay team of Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash.), Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Anthony Ervin (Valencia, Calif.) and Jimmy Feigen (San Antonio, Texas), earned a silver in the final event of the night.
The race was close the whole way as the lead switched hands three times, with no team leading by more than 31-hundredths of a second until the finish. The final standings: France in 3:11.18, the United States in 3:11.42 and Russia in 3:11.44.
In semifinal action, both U.S. women qualified for Monday’s final in the 100m butterfly. Dana Vollmer (Granbury, Texas) is the fourth seed with a qualifying time of 57.84, while Claire Donahue (Lenoir City, Tenn.) is the eighth seed with a time of 58.44. The men’s 50m fly saw a strong performance from Eugene Godsoe (Greensboro, N.C.) who squeaked into the men’s final in the eighth spot with a time of 23.16. Matt Grevers (Lake Forest, Ill.) finished 12th in 23.35 and will not swim in the final. In the women’s 200m IM, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz (Tucson, Ariz.) qualified for Monday’s final as the seventh seed with a time of 2:11.05. Elizabeth Beisel (Saunderstown, R.I.) finished 12th in 2:11.69. The men’s 100m breast will see both American men in the final Monday as Kevin Cordes (Naperville, Ill.) qualified second in 59.78 and Nic Fink (Morristown, N.J.) was 5th in 59.84.
Including the past week’s open water races, the U.S. now has six medals overall at these World Championships – three gold, one silver and two bronze.
The competition will continue daily through Sunday, Aug. 4 with prelims at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. local time.
Universal Sports and NBC will offer daily television coverage from Barcelona. Swimming coverage begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, with Universal Sports providing daily live coverage from Monday, July 29, through Friday, August 2, at 12 p.m. ET. NBC’s coverage continues Saturday, August 3 from 1-3 p.m. ET and Sunday, August 4 from 4-6 p.m. ET.
For more information about the U.S. Team at FINA World Championships visit, www.usaswimming.org.