Eighteen-year-old Missy Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single world swimming championships after leading the US 4x100m medley relay team to victory on Sunday.
Franklin gave the Olympic champions a commanding advantage with her leadoff backstroke leg, before Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer and Megan Romano completed the job to finish nearly two seconds ahead of Australia in second, with Russia in third.
“I never could have expected something like this coming into the meet,” said Franklin, who also claimed gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m freestyle and the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. “It is an honor to be first woman to reach this landmark. I have been able to prove to myself with how much I have swum and I’ve had so much fun doing it.”
With Franklin leading a group of record-breaking teenage women in Barcelona, the men have been somewhat overlooked, but Sun Yang cemented his status as the standout male of the meet by completing a hat-trick of long-distance freestyle golds as he claimed victory in the 1,500m.
The 21-year-old Chinese became the first man since Grant Hackett in 2005 to complete the treble of 400m, 800m and 1,500m titles, and admitted to feeling tired as he fell way short of his world record time from the London Olympics last year.
“I felt very tired during the competition, it is a very hard task to get such results and I feel very proud to have beaten such great swimmers in this competition,” Sun said.
Just as in London and at the world championships two years ago, Canada’s Ryan Cochrane claimed silver, with Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri taking bronze.
It was also a great night for France’s men as they picked up two golds through Camille Lacourt in the 50m backstroke and in the 4x100m medley relay after the US were disqualified when Kevin Cordes dived in to begin his breaststroke before Matt Grevers had completed his backstroke leg.
As a result Russia moved up to take the silver medal, with Japan claiming an unexpected bronze.
There was further success for France as Jeremy Stravius claimed silver in the 50m backstroke as he and Grevers tied for second place.
In one of the night’s most anticipated races, Russia’s Yulia Efimova pipped world-record holder Ruta Meilutyte to gold in the women’s 50m breaststroke, with Jessica Hardy of the US back in third.
Both women had broken the world record in Saturday’s preliminary rounds, with Meilutyte’s semi-final effort bettering Efimova’s time from the heats by 0.3 seconds.
However, it was Efimova who came out on top in the final by just 0.07 seconds to claim her second gold and fourth medal of the championships after gold and silver in the 200m and 100m breaststroke respectively, and bronze in the 4x100m medley relay.
There was also second gold of the championships for Hungarian Katinka Hosszu as she came close to breaking Ye Shiwen’s world record in the women’s 400m individual medley ahead of Spain’s Mereia Belmonte Garcia and Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel of the US.
Ye could only finish seventh and admitted afterwards to feeling so nervous before the race that she almost did not want to take part.
Dutch double Olympic sprint champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo claimed a third medal of the meet and a first gold in the 50m freestyle as she beat world 100m champion Cate Campbell into second, with Fran Halsall claiming Britain’s only medal of the meet in third.
In men’s 400m individual medley Japan’s Daiya Seto upset teammate Kosuke Hagino to claim gold, with Hagino only able to finish fourth behind Chase Kalisz of the US and Brazil’s Thiago Pereira.