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 in the men’s 200m IM (1:54.98), and Katie Ledecky, Shannon Vreeland, Karlee Bispo and Missy Franklin in the women’s 800m free relay (7:45.14).
Jimmy Feigen and Nathan Adrian 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 Pool, 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.
Men’s 200m IM
Lochte kicked it off for the U.S. in the first final of the night, the men’s 200m IM. His win was just the second gold medal this week for the American men.
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.
“My goggles fogged up, so I really couldn’t see the rest of the field,” Lochte said. “When the freestyle came, I was just hoping I was in first.”
Lochte’s gold made up for his disappointing fourth-place finish in the 200m free earlier this week. It marks the third 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.”
Women’s 800m Freestyle Relay
The women’s 800m free relay was neck-and-neck between the United States, Australia and France through the third leg. As the anchors dived in for the final leg, 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.
The U.S. has now won five of the last six World Championships in this event.
With this race, Ledecky has won three golds in Barcelona and is undefeated on the international stage, going back to last year’s Olympic 800m freestyle.
“It was my first relay on a U.S. team, so it just meant a lot to get up and race with three other girls behind me,” Ledecky said. “I had a ton of fun with all three of them. It was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had in a race.”
It was the second gold medal this week for Vreeland, who was also on the winning 400m free relay on the first night of competition.
“Katie led it off like a champ,” Vreeland said. “I knew she had an outstanding meet so far, so I was really excited to see what she could do on this relay, and having (Bispo and Franklin) behind me, I was really confident with the rest of the relay. With Missy as an anchor, you have a lot of confidence. You can’t go wrong.”
Bispo 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 golds 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.”
Men’s 100m Freestyle
Adrian went out after it in the men’s 100m freestyle, 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 teammate Jimmy 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.
“It’s not bad for (Feigen’s) first individual international meet,” Adrian said. “It was solid. It’s just so exciting to have two Americans on the podium, especially in the 100 freestyle. It’s been such a long time. It’s just good to be up there.”
As for his own race, Adrian felt he had some good speed, especially in the first 50.
“I went out in 22.3, and it felt like nothing,” Adrian said. “Hopefully that means some good things in the 50 tomorrow.”
Women’s 200m Fly
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 of the United States, the lone American in the finals of this event, was seventh in 2:07.73.
Women’s 50m Back
The U.S. also fell short of medals in the women’s 50m back. The lone American swimmer in the finals, Rachel Bootsma, 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.
The following American swimmers competed in tonight’s semifinals: Missy Franklin, 5th, women’s 100m free (53.78); Shannon Vreeland, 7th, women’s 100m free (53.99); Micah Lawrence, 4th, women’s 200m breaststroke (2:23:23); Breeja Larson, 12th, women’s 200m breaststroke (2:26.22); Kevin Cordes, 9th, men’s 200m breaststroke (2:10.03); B.J. Johnson, 12th, men’s 200m breaststroke (2:10.79); Tyler Clary, 1st, men’s 200m backstroke (1:55.16); Ryan Lochte, 2nd, men’s 200m backstroke (1:55.58).
The top eight swimmers in each event will compete in tomorrow night’s finals.
The 15th FINA World Championships continues Friday. For complete results, go to www.omegatiming.com.
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