Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins 200 freestyle world title; swimming worlds Wednesday recap

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Missy Franklin remained golden at the world swimming championships by winning the 200-meter freestyle Wednesday.

The four-time Olympic champion is now three for three in golds in Barcelona with four events to go (cutting the 50 backstroke, which she scratched out of). No woman has won seven medals — let alone seven golds — at one worlds, and Franklin, 18, is in great shape to pull it off.

Franklin held off world-record holder Federica Pellegrini to win the 200 free in 1 minute, 54.81 seconds, an event in which she missed bronze by .01 at the London Olympics. She’s slated for the 100 freestyle prelims and semifinals and the 4×200 free relay finals Thursday.

The other several-event star of USA Swimming, Ryan Lochte, returned to form Wednesday. Lochte qualified first into Thursday’s final of the 200 individual medley, an event he’s won at the last two world championships.

Lochte said he felt like “a new man” in his third of a potential seven events at the meet. He swam an average leg on the U.S.’ silver medal-winning 4×100 free relay team Sunday and took fourth in the 200 free Tuesday.

In Wednesday’s other finals, China’s Sun Yang asserted his distance dominance by winning the 800 freestyle, but American Michael McBroom surprised with the best swim of his life for silver. South African Olympic champions swept the 200 butterfly (Chad le Clos) and the 50 breaststroke (Cameron van der Burgh).

Americans Nathan Adrian and Jimmy Feigen led the qualifiers into Thursday’s 100 freestyle final, where they’ll have a showdown with Australian James Magnussen.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and video of Wednesday’s events.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Men’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Nathan Adrian (USA) 47.95
2. Jimmy Feigen (USA) 48.07
3. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 48.11
4. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.20
4. James Magnussen (AUS) 48.20
6. Fabien Gilot (FRA) 48.21
7. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 48.43
8. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.46

Summary
The Olympic champion Adrian leads the qualifiers into Thursday’s final, followed, surprisingly, by his teammate Feigen. Feigen swam anchor for the U.S. in the 4×100 free relay Sunday and lost the lead to France. Magnussen, the defending world champion, is still the fastest man in the world this year, four tenths faster than Adrian, actually. Morozov is the second fastest this year. Gilot was by far the fastest relay split in the 4×100, so watch out for him, too.

“James and I are friends,” Adrian told Universal Sports. “I think it’s a very friendly rivalry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win.”

Women’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.40
2. Aya Terakawa (JPN) 27.70
3. Mercedes Peris Minguet (ESP) 27.71
4. Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.87
5. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 27.89
6. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 27.93
7. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.02
8. Georgia Davies (GBR) 28.05

Summary
This event is not on the Olympic program. Franklin scratched this event after qualifying 13th into the semifinals Wednesday morning to concentrate on the 200 free final. Franklin was the 2011 world bronze medalist. Fu, the youngest semifinalist at age 17, is about as big of a favorite for gold as you can have in a 50-meter race with three of the four fastest times in the world this year. Terakawa is the only woman who has been within three tenths of Fu in 2013. Peris Minguet set a new national record in winning the first semifinal. Bootsma, in her only event at these worlds, has a shot at a medal.

Men’s 200 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) 1:54.32

Silver: Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 1:55.01
Bronze: Wu Peng (CHN) 1:55.09
4. Chen Yin (CHN) 1:55.47
5. Tom Luchsinger (USA) 1:55.70
6. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 1:56.02
7. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:56.34
8. Leonardo De Deus (BRA) 1:56.44

Summary
Le Clos, 21, follows his Olympic title with a world championship, forcefully splashing the water after touching first. He was one tenth behind Korzeniowski after 150 meters. Korzeniowski earned his third career world medal in the 200 fly. Wu won his fourth world medal in the event. The retired Michael Phelps had won the previous three world titles in this, his signature race.

“I was very nervous coming into his race because I was the favorite of course,” le Clos told Universal Sports. “Having Michael there (when Phelps was competing) almost lifts you, to be honest. … I’m in awe of him, every time I see him. … Knowing that he was watching in the stands means a lot to me.”

Women’s 200 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 1:54.81

Silver: Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.14
Bronze: Camille Muffat (FRA) 1:55.72
4. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 1:56.63
5. Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 1:57.04
6. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 1:57.14
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:57.41
8. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA) 1:57.56

Summary
Franklin is now three for three in golds at the world championships with four events to go. No woman has won seven medals at a single worlds. She took the lead between 50 and 100 meters, was under world-record pace at 100 and held on amid a strong late charge by Pellegrini, who was bidding to become the first woman to win three straight world titles in the same event. It’s the biggest freestyle win of Franklin’s career. She placed fourth in the 200 free at the Olympics, missing bronze by .01.

“This feels absolutely incredible,” Franklin said. “I knew Federica was definitely going to come back strong. … I was just trying to push myself as hard as I could to try to stay out front.”

Men’s 50 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 26.77

Silver: Christian Sprenger (AUS) 26.78
Bronze: Giulio Zorzi (RSA) 27.04
4. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 27.05
5. Joao Gomes (BRA) 27.20
6. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 27.21
7. Johannes Skagius (SWE) 27.84
8. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 27.53

Summary
This event is not contested at the Olympics, and it was the first final this week without an American in the field. Van der Burgh, the Olympic champ in the 100, was one tenth of a second off his world record. He won by the smallest margin possible, .01, for his second world title in the 50 breast (2009). Sprenger adds silver to his gold in the 100 earlier this week. South Africa has now won three medals Wednesday.

Women’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:06.53
2. Camille Adams (USA) 2:06.75
3. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:06.85
4. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 2:07.18
4. Liu Zige (CHN) 2:07.18
6. Zszuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:07.31
7. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:07.70
8. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:07.87

Summary
Belmonte Garcia, the London silver medalist, could win the first world or Olympic gold by a Spaniard born in Spain. American-born and Russian-born Spaniards previously took titles. Adams, fifth at the 2012 Olympics, won the first semifinal in a time two tenths off her personal best. Her chances of a medal took a big jump with that clocking. Hosszu, the 200 IM champion two days ago, is also a medal threat. As are Liu and Jiao, the last two Olympic champions.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:57.07
2. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:57.38
3. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 1:57.41
2. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:57.52
5. Wang Shun (CHN) 1:57.80
3. Daiya Seto (JPN) 1:58.03
4. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:58.10
5. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:58.17

Summary
Lochte looked very impressive, shutting it down in the final few meters and still easily qualifying first. If he keeps that form Thursday, there’s no doubt he’ll win his first gold of these world championships. Lochte, the two-time defending world champ in this event, already has a silver from the 4×100 free relay and took fourth in the 200 free. His U.S. teammate, Conor Dwyer, failed to make the final after getting silver in that 200 free. Hagino, Cseh and Pereira are in the mix for silver and bronze.

“The first two days of competition, I was too worried about winning and too worried about the time I was gonna go, and that’s not me,” Lochte said. “I woke up this morning, felt like a new man. I was having fun, wasn’t caring about the time I went.”

Men’s 800 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) 7:41.36
Silver: Michael McBroom (USA) 7:43.60
Bronze: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 7:43.70
4. Connor Jaeger (USA) 7:44.26
5. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 7:47.38
6. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 7:50.29
7. Pal Joensen (FAR) 7:52.57
8. Ous Mellouli (TUN) 7:52.79

Summary
The super favorite Sun defended his world title, letting out a nice yell, pumping his arms and beating his chest, and is now two for two in golds in Barcelona. He has the 1,500 freestyle left, where he holds the world record. McBroom and Jaeger both broke the American record. McBroom won his first major international medal by setting a personal record by four seconds.

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Katie Ledecky eyes more history as women to star at swimming worlds

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The year after the Olympics isn’t always known for it, but there should be fireworks in the women’s events at the world swimming championships in Budapest next week.

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Katie Ledecky could match Missy Franklin‘s record of six gold medals at a single worlds. Judging by Ledecky’s times at the U.S. Championships last month, the rising Stanford sophomore is in her usual dominant form.

Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, swimming in front of her home fans, could try to equal Ledecky with four individual golds in backstrokes and individual medleys.

Swede Sarah Sjostrom could do the same in the 50m and 100m butterflies and freestyles, where world records are under threat.

Ledecky, Hosszu and Sjostrom are all bidding to become the first women to three-peat in an individual event at worlds.

Then there’s the return of the greatest rivalry in swimming. After their memorable Rio duel, King and Yulia Efimova rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year in all three breaststrokes.

Spain’s Mireia Belmonte and American Leah Smith have never won an individual world title, but they could be the busiest swimmers of all next week. Belmonte could race 7,4000 total meters if she makes every event final. Smith could get up to 7,000 meters. Both would outdistance Ledecky and Hosszu in mileage.

The women’s program could have been even more loaded if not for two notable absences. Australian Cate Campbell, the 100m freestyle world-record holder, is sitting out world champs.

Australia beat the U.S. in the 4x100m free relay at the 2015 Worlds and 2016 Olympics, but without Campbell, the Americans are about even with the Aussies. Ledecky’s bid for six golds could hang on this race on the opening night.

Ledecky also greatly benefits from Sjostrom’s decision to skip the 200m freestyle. In Rio, Sjostrom was the closest swimmer to Ledecky in her individual events, coming .35 shy in the 200m free while outsplitting Ledecky in the final 50 meters.

Key women’s finals:

Sunday, July 23
400m freestyle — Ledecky hasn’t lost a 400m free since the 2012 Olympic Trials
4x100m freestyle relay — Showdown with Campbell-less Australia crucial for Ledecky’s six-gold bid

Monday, July 24
100m butterfly — Sjostrom’s only competition is her world record of 55.48
200m individual medley — Nobody has been within a second of Hosszu this year

Tuesday, July 25
100m backstroke — Kylie Masse was .09 off the longest-standing women’s swimming world record at Canadian Champs
1500m freestyle — Ledecky is 25 seconds faster than anyone else this year
100m breaststroke — Efimova is .13 faster than King this year

Wednesday, July 26
200m freestyle — Ledecky’s toughest individual event made easier by Sjostrom’s absence

Thursday, July 27
200m butterfly — Olympic champ Belmonte eyes first world title; Nos. 2, 3, 4 from Rio absent
4x200m freestyle relay — China is strong, but Ledecky is the U.S.’ ace in the hole

Friday, July 28
100m freestyle — Heavy favorite Sjostrom .02 off the world record in June
200m breaststroke — Efimova is two seconds faster than second-ranked King this year

Saturday, July 29
200m backstroke — Kathleen Baker can inherit throne from retired Maya DiRado 
800m freestyle — Likely Ledecky’s sixth and final event, could match Franklin’s gold record

Sunday, July 30
50m freestyle — No. of sub-24-second times this year — Sjostrom: 6; Rest of World: 0
400m individual medley — Hosszu, after breaking WR by two seconds in Rio, slower this year
4x100m medley relay — U.S. should gap Australia, China on breaststroke leg

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MORE: Michael Phelps not itching to return like in 2013

*Correction: The integrity of a Lilly King quote attributed to Agence France-Presse in earlier version of this story has been called into question and was removed. 

Chris Froome eyes fourth Tour de France title after last mountain stage

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Chris Froome is, for all intents and purposes, 14 miles from his fourth Tour de France title.

The British rider finished fourth — 20 seconds behind winner Warren Barguil — atop the Col d’Izoard in the final mountain stage Thursday.

More importantly, Froome and Romain Bardet finished together, while Rigoberto Uran was two seconds behind them.

Froome entered the day with a 27-second lead over Bardet and Uran for the yellow jersey in the three-week stage race that ends Sunday.

Froome lost four seconds of his overall race lead to stage third-place finisher Romain Bardet due to Bardet’s time bonus. But neither Bardet nor Uran could mount a successful attack on Froome as they rode together up the nine-mile, highest-category climb to the finish.

“I thought I was going to suffocate as I crossed the line,” Bardet said, according to The Associated Press. “I have no regrets. I did everything I could.”

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Now, Froome leads by 23 seconds over Bardet and 29 seconds over Uran with three stages left. However, the overall standings should not be affected by Friday’s flat stage and Sunday’s ceremonial ride into Paris.

Bardet and Uran will try to gain time on Froome in a 14-mile individual time trial Saturday, but Froome is a stronger time trialist than Bardet and, at worst, similar to Uran. Plus, a short, 14-mile day is not much distance to make up the deficit.

“I tried to drop Uran and Bardet, but it was virtually impossible today,” Froome said, according to Cyclingnews.com, after attacking them with about a mile and a half left. “If everything goes well, I fancy my chances against the other guys in the time trial, but it’s still very close.”

Froome, 32, is trying to move within one Tour title of the career record of five shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Froome has been the anchor of cycling’s most powerful team — Team Sky — for five seasons now. Every time the rail-thin Brit has reached the Champs-Élysées in that time, he has been wearing the yellow jersey. The only miss was when he abandoned on Stage 5 in 2014 after crashing three times in two days.

Bardet, 26, was runner-up to Froome in last year’s Tour by 4:05. His chances of becoming the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Hinault in 1985 — and ending the host nation’s longest victory drought — now appear very dim.

Uran, 30 and the 2012 Olympic road race silver medalist for Colombia, is trying to become the first South American to win the Tour.

Stage 19 on Friday is the longest of this year’s Tour at 138 miles.

NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 6:10 a.m. ET, with NBCSN coming on air at 7:30 a.m.

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