Eighteen-year-old sensation Missy Franklin of the US stayed on course to be the first woman to win six world championship golds in a single meet with victory in the 200m backstroke on Saturday.
Franklin was just outside her world-record time from the Olympics last year, but did set a championship record as she was followed home by Australia’s Belinda Hocking and Canada’s Hilary Caldwell.
“It never gets easy, the competition here is the best in the world, so you know every race will be a tough race,” Franklin said. “Every race is equally as difficult, but equally as rewarding at the same time.”
Franklin’s exhaustive schedule in Barcelona, Spain, drew to a close yesterday evening when she went in the 4x100m medley relay.
“It is my favorite relay. I know we’ll have an incredible group of girls going, so I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
Not to be outdone by her teammate, 16-year-old Katie Ledecky secured her second world record and fourth gold of the meet in the 800m freestyle.
Ledecky had smashed the 1,500m world record by six seconds earlier in the week, but she sneaked past Rebecca Adlington’s record in the 800m by just 0.2 seconds as, just like in the 1500m, Denmark’s Lotte Friis and New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle picked up silver and bronze respectively.
“I am thrilled, I exceeded my expectations for the year,” said a delighted Ledecky who also took gold in the 400m freestyle and the 4x200m relay. “The goal I set at the beginning of the year was three medals and one world record, and now I have four golds and two world records so I couldn’t be happier.”
There was to be no 16th world title for Ryan Lochte on his 29th birthday as he could only finish sixth in the men’s 100m butterfly, with Chad Le Clos claiming his second gold of the championships.
“It is unbelievable. To win two gold medals at a world championships is like a dream come true,” said the South African, who also won the 200m butterfly on Thursday.
There was also a second title of the meet for Brazil’s Cesar Cielo as he claimed gold in a star-studded 50m freestyle final that contained five Olympic champions.
“I was not expected to win, so this is the best feeling I’ve had after a race,” a joyful Cielo said after joining Alexander Popov in becoming the only non-Americans to win six individual world championship gold medals.
In a remarkable day in the women’s 50m breaststroke the world record fell for a second time in a matter of hours as world and Olympic champion over 100m Ruta Meilutyte passed the time set by Yuliya Efimova on Saturday morning to claim her second world record of the meet in 29.48 seconds.
Eith Efimova and Jessica Hardy of the US — who had held the record at the start of the day — also qualifying for the final there is every chance Meilutyte’s time could have been bettered yesterday.
Jeanette Ottesen Gray claimed Denmark’s first gold of the championships in the women’s 50m butterfly as she edged out Olympic silver medalist Lu Ying, with Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands claiming her second bronze in as many days.
In the night’s semi-final action, Australia’s Cate Campbell continued her quest for double sprint gold as 24 hours after claiming the 100m title she qualified fastest for the women’s 50m freestyle.
Matt Grevers of the US was also looking to complete a double triumph yesterday after he qualified for the men’s 50m backstroke final behind the French duo of Jeremy Stravius and Camille Lacourt, who tied for gold at the world championships two years ago in Shanghai.