BARCELONA – Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) won gold and set a world record in the women’s 800m freestyle Saturday at the 15th FINA World Championships, turning in a time 8:13.86. Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colo.) also won gold, breaking the meet record in the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:04.76.
Their efforts brought the Americans’ medal count to 26 – 13 gold, six silver and seven bronze. The U.S. leads all countries in both total medal count and gold medals won.
The women’s 800m freestyle was Ledecky’s fourth race of the meet. She also swam the 400m free, 1500m free and 800m free relay earlier in the week, winning gold in each and setting a world record in the 1500m free and an American record in the 400m free.
In the 800m free, Ledecky trailed Lotte Friis of Denmark by as much as a body length, but started gaining ground at the 600-meter mark. Ledecky took the the lead at 650 meters, and was twelve-hundredths ahead of world-record pace with 100 meters to go.
She finished about two and a half seconds ahead of Friis, who touched in 8:16.32. Lauren Boyle of New Zealand was third in 8:18.58. American Chloe Sutton (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was sixth in 8:27.75.
“It doesn’t really matter what’s going on in the middle of the race,” Ledecky said. “It’s all about getting your hand on the wall first. My coach really wanted me to push the last 200, and I just stayed patient throughout the race like I did the other day (in the 1500), and made my move where I had to.”
The U.S. has medaled in 14 of 15 World Championships in this event. The last American to win gold was Kate Zeigler in 2007.
“It’s good to finish off on a great note,” Ledecky said. “I exceeded all expectations I had going into this meet and met all my goals, and I’m really happy right now.”
In the women’s 200m back, Franklin took the lead from the start and cruised to the meet record, finishing almost two body-lengths ahead silver medalist Belinda Hocking of Australia, who touched in 2:06.66. Hilary Caldwell of Canada won bronze in 2:06.80. Franklin’s teammate, Elizabeth Pelton (Baltimore, Md.), was fifth in 2:08.98.
“The 200 back is my favorite race, but it’s probably the most painful,” Franklin said. “I enjoy it, but it hurts a lot. I tried to swim a smart race and stick to my race plan. I’m really happy with a 2:04. It’s right where I was in London. I haven’t been there all season, so to be a 2:04 again, I’m really, really happy.”
It was the fifth gold medal of the meet for Franklin, who also took first in the in the 100m back, 200m free, 400m free relay and 800m free relay. She’s swum six finals so far, and is expected to cap the meet with the finals of the 400m medley relay on Sunday.
American Dana Vollmer (Granbury, Texas) finished eighth in the women’s 50m butterfly in 26.46. Jeanette Ottesen Gray of Denmark was first in 25.24, followed by Lu Ying of China in 25.42 and Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands in 25.53. Vollmer was the only American swimmer in this final.
In the men’s 100m free, the swimmers in lanes 6, 7 and 8 took all the hardware. Cesar Cielo of Brazil won gold in 21.32, while Vladimir Morozov of Russia took silver in 21.47 and George Bovel of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze in 21.51. Americans Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash.) and Anthony Ervin (Valencia, Calif.) finished fourth and sixth in 21.60 and 21.65.
In the men’s 100m butterfly, Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) finished sixth in this event in 51.58. It was his first time swimming the 100 fly at a major international competition. Winning gold was Chad Le Clos of South Africa in 51.06, followed by Laszlo Cseh of Hungary in 51.45 and Konrad Czerniak of Poland in 51.46.
In other semifinal action, Jessica Hardy (Long Beach, Calif.) was third in the 50m breaststroke (29.90); and Breeja Larson (Mesa, Ariz.) was fourth (30.20); Simone Manuel (Sugar Land, Texas) qualified eighth in the women’s 50m freestyle (24.91) while Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.) finished 11th (25.02); Matt Grevers (Lake Forest, Ill.) tied for fourth in the men’s 50m backstroke (24.79) and David Plummer (Oklahoma City, Okla.) was 16th (26.00).
The top eight swimmers in each event will compete in tomorrow night’s finals. Competition concludes Sunday, Aug. 4 with prelims at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. local time.
NBC will broadcast the action 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. For complete results, visit www.omegatiming.com.