Keeping the Ball Rolling


BARCELONA – Franklin, Lochte, Ledecky. The United States’ biggest stars at these 15th FINA World Championships will be back in the water for tonight’s finals at Palau Sant Jordi. Can they maintain their momentum?


Here’s a look at some of the storylines:


Dana Vollmer swims the semifinals of the 100m fly. (Small)Women’s 50m Butterfly
Dana Vollmer will be the lone American swimming in the finals of the women’s 100m butterfly, qualifying fifth in 26.06. Vollmer won bronze in the women’s 100m butterfly on the second night of competition. She has competed in four World Championships over the course of her career and has won nine World Championships medals – three gold, four silver and two bronze.


The U.S. has medaled just once in this event. Jenny Thompson won silver in 2003.


Anthony Ervin and Nathan Adrian after the prelims of the 50m free. (small)Men’s 50m Freestyle
Anthony Ervin and Nathan Adrian are seeded second and third heading into the finals of the men’s 50m freestyle with times of 21.42 and 21.60. Ervin’s time was just two-hundredths off the American record, set by Cullen Jones at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.


The U.S. has double-medaled at three World Championships – in 1986, 1991 and 2007. The last time an American medaled in this event was 2007, when Ben Wildman-Tobriner and Cullen Jones took gold and silver.


Missy Franklin at the start of the 200 back semifinals. (small)Women’s 200m Backstroke
Missy Franklin will swim her sixth event of the meet in the women’s 200m backstroke, following a fourth-place finish in the 100m free on Friday. She is the top seed in 2:06.46.


Franklin has won four gold medals so far this week – in the 100m back, 200m free, 400m free relay and 800m free relay.


She is the world record-holder in this event, a mark she set at 2:04.06 en route to a gold at the 2012 Olympic Games. She is also the defending World Champion. Her gold in 2011 was just the second for the U.S. in the 200m back since 2008.


Teammate Elizabeth Pelton will be swimming alongside Franklin in lane 3, qualifying for tonight’s finals in 2:08.20. Pelton is swimming in her third World Championships. She finished sixth in this event at the 2009 World Champs.


Ryan Lochte swimming the prelims of the 100m fly. (Small)Men’s 100m Butterfly

Ryan Lochte qualified first in the men’s 100m butterfly Friday in the midst of a tough triple, in which he first swam the finals of the 200m back, then semifinals of the 100m fly and finals of the 800m free relay. His time was 51.48.


This week, Lochte has won four medals – three gold and a silver. He has competed in five World Championships and has won 23 World Championship medals (15 gold, four silver and four bronze) over the course of his career, but he has never swum this event at a World Champs.


The U.S. has double-medaled in the 100m fly in four of the last five World Championships. Michael Phelps won the last three, setting the world record at 49.82 in 2009.


Katie Ledecky celebrates her world record in the 1500m free. (small)Women’s 800m Freestyle
Katie Ledecky will be going for her fourth gold medal of the meet as the top seed in the women’s 800m free (8:20.65).


Ledecky won gold and set an American record in the 400m free on the first night of competition, then followed that up with a gold and a world record in the 1500m free. She also won gold in the 800m free relay on Thursday.


Going back to last year’s Olympic Games, where she won gold and set an American record in the 800m free (8:14.63), Ledecky is undefeated on the international stage.


Chloe Sutton qualified as the eighth seed in 8:27.41. It’s her third event this week. She also swam in the prelims of the women’s 400m free and in the finals of the 1500m free.


The U.S. had medaled in 13 of 14 World Championships in this event. The last time an American medaled in the 800m free at Worlds was a bronze from Kate Ziegler in 2011. Zeigler was also the last American to win gold, in 2007.


Prelims were also contested in four events Saturday morning at Palau Sant Jordi. Yuliya Efimova of Russia set a world record in the women’s 50m breaststroke in 29.78. The former world record, set by American Jessica Hardy in 2009, stood at 29.80.

The top 16 finishers in the women’s 50m freestyle, men’s 50m backstroke, women’s 50m breaststroke will compete in tonight’s semifinals. The top eight swimmers in the men’s 1500m freestyle will compete in tomorrow night’s finals.

Here’s how the American swimmers fared in this morning’s prelims: Simone Manuel, 7th, women’s 50m freestyle (24.93); Natalie Coughlin, 9th, women’s 50m freestyle (25.00); David Plummer, 5th, men’s 50m backstroke (24.91); Matt Grevers, 10th, men’s 50m backstroke (25.08); Jessica Hardy, 2nd, women’s 50m breaststroke (29.99); Breeja Larson, 4th, women’s 50m breaststroke (30.46); Connor Jaeger, 3rd, men’s 1500m freestyle (14:56.62); Michael McBroom, 7th, men’s 1500m freestyle (14:59.73).

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