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U.S. Swimmers Earn Four Medals at FINA World Championships

BARCELONA – American swimmers won four medals – two gold, a silver and a bronze – Thursday at the 15th FINA World Championships.

Winning gold for the U.S. was Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) in the men’s 200m IM with a time of 1:54.98, as well as Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.), Shannon Vreeland (Overland Park, Kan.), Karlee Bispo (Modesto, Calif.) and Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colo.) in the women’s 800m free relay in 7:45.14.

Also adding to the medal count were Jimmy Feigen (San Antonio, Texas) and Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash.) won silver and bronze in the men’s 100m freestyle in 47.82 and 47.84, respectively.

After five days at the Palau Sant Jordi, the Americans’ medal count stands at 20 – nine gold, six silver and five bronze. They lead all teams in both gold medals and total medal count.

Lochte kicked it off for the U.S. in the first final of the night, the men’s 200m IM. He took the first 100 out strong and in control, trailing Brazil’s Thiago Pereira by just fractions of a second at each wall. He then made his move in the breaststroke leg, surging ahead of the field and brining it home in the final 50. He finished about 1.3 seconds ahead of Kosuke Hagino of Japan, who touched in 1:56.29. Pereira was third in 1:56.30.

Lochte’s gold marks the third straight time he’s won a World Championship title in this event, setting a world record in Rome in 2009 and Shanghai in 2011. Between Lochte and Michael Phelps, Americans have won the 200m IM at every World Championships for the last 10 years.

“It feels good considering my training this year,” Lochte said. “It hasn’t really been there, so I was happy to get a win out of this.”

The women’s 800m free relay was neck-and-neck between the U.S., Australia and France through the third leg. As the anchors dove in, Australia held about a second lead over the U.S., which was quickly erased by Franklin.

By the end of her first 100 meters, the U.S. held a second’s lead over the rest of the field. Franklin never looked back, finishing about two body lengths ahead of runner-up Australia, who touched in 7:47.08. France was third in 7:48.43.

Bispo, who was the third leg on the relay, swam in her first final at a major international meet and won her first career World Championship gold.

“To be with three Olympians and amazing people, and to be able to represent my country, look back and hear the USA chant, wear the flag on our suits and caps and win the gold medals is something I’ll never forget,” Bispo said. “I was trying to hide back the tears hearing the National Anthem. It’s definitely an unforgettable memory.”

Franklin now has four gold medals this week and counting. She still has three events left to swim – the 100 free, the 200 back and the 400 medley relay.

“Regardless of what my time was, I knew I had to leave everything in that pool,” Franklin said. “I was scared my first hundred because I was so excited, and I took it out so fast, but I knew I had to bring it home with everything I had. I was just thinking about these girls the whole time.”

In the men’s 100 free, Adrian went out strong, flipping second at the wall and heading out into clear water. At about halfway down the homestretch, the rest of the field began to surge, including Feigen. In the end, Adrian just couldn’t hold off Feigen and Australian James Magnussen. Magnussen won gold in 47.71, followed by Feigen, then Adrian.

Feigen also won silver, along with Adrian, in the 400m free relay on the first night of competition. But Thursday was his first time competing in an individual final at a long course World Championship.

“I started out a little shaky with this whole World Championships thing, but I think it’s coming together in the end,” Feigen said. “Nathan and I have a long history of first and second, so I’m glad we were both there next to each other. I had him for support this entire meet. He’s been a great teammate. I can’t say enough nice things about him.”

Thursday’s race was the first time an American has medaled in this event in the last five World Championships. The last American to win a medal at the World Championships was Anthony Ervin, who took gold in 2001.

The medalists in the women’s 200m fly were Liu Zige of China (2:04.59), Mireia Belmonte of Spain (2:04.78) and Katinka Hosszu of Hungary (2:05.59). Cammile Adams (Cypress, Texas), the lone American in the finals of this event, was seventh in 2:07.73.

The lone American swimmer in the women’s 50m back finals, Rachel Bootsma (Eden Prairie, Minn.), finished seventh in 28.05. Zhao Jing of China won gold in 27.29. Her teammate, Fu Yuanhui took silver in 27.39, while Japan’s Aya Terakawa took bronze in 27.53.

In semifinal action Thursday, Franklin (53.78) and Vreeland (53.99) qualified fifth and seventh, respectively, for the final of the 100m free. Tyler Clary (Riverside, Calif.) qualified first in the 200 back in 1:55.16, followed closely by Lochte, who was second in 1:55.58.

In the semis of the women’s 200m breast, Micah Lawrence (Pflugerville, Texas) qualified fourth in 2:23:23, while Breeja Larson (Mesa, Ariz.) finished 12th in 2:26.22. In the men’s 200m breast, Kevin Cordes (Naperville, Ill.) finished ninth in 2:10.03, while B.J. Johnson (Seattle, Wash.) was 12th in 2:10.79.

The competition will continue daily through Sunday 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. Universal Sports will provide daily live coverage through Friday, Aug. 2, at 12 p.m. ET. NBC’s coverage continues Saturday, Aug. 3 from 1-3 p.m. ET and Sunday, Aug. 4 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

For more information about the U.S. Team at FINA World Championships visit, www.usaswimming.org. For complete results, visit www.omegatiming.com.