BARCELONA – Tuesday night’s finals of the 15th FINA World Championships have the potential to be big for the U.S., with two Americans swimming in each of the five events in which medals are at stake.
Here’s a look at their prospects:
Men’s 200m Freestyle
Ryan Lochte is swimming in his first final at this meet. Lochte, the defending world champion in this event, is competing in his fifth long course World Championships and has won 19 medals over the course of his career, second only to Michael Phelps’s record total of 33. In 2011, Lochte was the star of the meet in Shanghai, where he won six medals overall – 5 gold and a bronze. He enters tonight’s 200m free as the second seed in 1:46.06.
Teammate Conor Dwyer is the six seed at 1:47.05. Dwyer is competing in his first long course World Championship final, though this is not his first appearance on the big-time international stage. He helped the U.S. to gold in the finals of the 800m free relay at last year’s Olympic Games.
Women’s 100m Backstroke
On Sunday, Missy Franklin helped the U.S. win gold and set an American record in the women’s 400m freestyle relay. Tonight she’s swimming in her first individual final of the meet as the top seed in the women’s 100m backstroke (59.31).
Franklin won this event and set an American record at last year’s Olympic Games in London, and entered this meet with the top time in the world this year. She has won a total of six medals on the World Championship stage, including her gold from Sunday.
Her teammate, Elizabeth Pelton, is the third seed in 59.44 and is competing in her third long course World Championships. In 2009, she finished 13th in this event at the World Championships in Rome.
Women’s 1500m Freestyle
Fresh off her win and American record in the 400m freestyle on the first night of competition, Katie Ledecky returns to the pool tonight as the second seed in the women’s 1500m freestyle (15:49.26). Competing in just her second major international competition, Ledecky is undefeated on the world stage, winning the 800m free in American-record time at last year’s Olympic Games and doing the same thing in the 400m free on Sunday. This is the second of three events in which she will be competing this week. She will also race the 800m free on Saturday.
Teammate Chloe Sutton is the seventh seed in 16:04.72. Sutton is a two-time Olympian and is competing in her third long course World Championships. She finished 10th in the 400m free on Sunday.
Men’s 100m Backstroke
Last year, Matt Grevers and Nick Thoman went 1-2 in the men’s 100m backstroke in London. This year the Americans have a shot at the same feat here in Barcelona, with Grevers and teammate David Plummer qualifying 1-2 for tonight’s finals in 52.97 and 53.10.
Despite Grevers’ success in this event at the past two Olympic Games (silver in 2008, gold in 2012), he has never medaled in the 100m back at a long course World Championship. Plummer, meanwhile, finished fifth in this event at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.
The U.S. has a strong history in the men’s 100m back, medaling in 10 of the previous 14 World Championships. The last American swimmer to medal and win gold, however, was Aaron Peirsol in 2007.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte set the world record in the women’s 100m breaststroke in last night’s semifinals, turning in a time of 1:04.35. That bettered the former mark, set in 2009 by the United States’ Jessica Hardy, by one tenth of a second.
Hardy will be racing against Meilutyte in tonight’s finals, qualifying fourth in 1:06.10. This will be Hardy’s first time racing the 100m breaststroke at a major international competition since the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne.
Teammate Breeja Larson is the fifth seed in 1:06.61. Larson broke out onto the world stage at last year’s Olympic Games in London, where she finished sixth in this event.
Prelims were also contested in four events Tuesday morning at Palau Sant Jordi. The top 16 finishers in the men’s 50m breaststroke, women’s 200m freestyle and men’s 200m butterfly will compete in tonight’s semifinals. The top eight swimmers in the men’s 800m freestyle will compete in Wednesday night’s finals.
Here’s how the American swimmers fared in this morning’s prelims: Kevin Steel, 10th, men’s 50m breaststroke, 27.45; Kevin Cordes, 21st, men’s 50m breaststroke, 27.69; Missy Franklin, 4th, women’s 200m freestyle, 1:56.90; Shannon Vreeland, 11th, women’s 200m freestyle, 1:58.08; Tyler Clary, 1st, men’s 200m butterfly, 1:56.03; Tom Luchsinger, 3rd, men’s 200m butterfly, 1:56.32; Connor Jaeger, 1st, men’s 800m freestyle, 7:49.28; Michael McBroom, 4th, men’s 800m freestyle, 7:50.61.
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