Nathan Adrian

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky win gold medals at world swimming championships Thursday

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The U.S.’ three best swimmers shined at the world championships Thursday, each picking up gold medals on the fifth night of finals in Barcelona.

Ryan Lochte won his first title of these worlds, crushing the field by more than a second in the 200-meter individual medley in 1 minute, 54.98 seconds. He won his third straight world title in the event and did it with the fastest time in the world this year.

Lochte appears to be rounding into form after an average split in the silver medal-winning 4×100 free relay Sunday and a fourth place in the 200 freestyle Tuesday. He has a potential four events left, including the final of the 200 backstroke Friday.

Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin led the U.S. 4×200 free relay team to gold. Ledecky, 16, took her third gold in as many events at the meet. Franklin, 18, now has four golds with three events left. She could become the first woman ever to win seven medals of any color at a single world championships.

Franklin’s anchor leg on the relay was particularly memorable. She dove in with a 1.12 second deficit to Australian Alicia Coutts, a seasoned veteran with five Olympic and seven world medals to her name. Franklin’s split time was 1.75 seconds faster than any of the other 31 swimmers in the relay final. The U.S. won by 2.84 seconds.

In the other anticipated final Thursday, Australia’s biggest star, James Magnussen, defended his 100 free world title. Americans Jimmy Feigen and Nathan Adrian took silver and bronze, respectively. Adrian had beaten Magnussen by .01 to win the Olympic title.

There was also another world record set — the third of the meet — plus a pair of Chinese victories in women’s finals. Scroll down for full results, video highlights and analysis.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Women’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.87
2. Cate Campbell (AUS) 53.09
3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.29
4. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.68
5. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.78
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.85
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 53.99
8. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.09

Summary
Campbell is a heavy favorite in Friday’s final, but Franklin has a shot at a medal as she vies for a female record seven medals at a single worlds. Franklin was four tenths slower than in the morning prelims (where she set a personal best), but she still won her semifinal and was likely saving energy for the 4×200 free relay. Sjostrom, the 100 butterfly champion, swam a personal best, but she’s still a half second slower than Campbell’s world-leading time for 2013. Kromowidjojo is the Olympic champion.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley Final

Results
Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:54.98

Silver: Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.29
Bronze: Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:56.30
4. Wang Shun (CHN) 1:56.86
5. Laszlo Csesh (HUN) 1:57.70
6. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:57.88
7. Daiya Seto (JPN) 1:58.45
8. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:59.79

Summary
With his first gold at this meet, Lochte becomes the fifth man to win three straight world titles in one event (Michael PhelpsAaron PeirsolIan ThorpeGrant Hackett). He was behind after 50 and 100 meters (Pereira led) but took a half-second lead after the breaststroke and cruised home. Lochte now has a gold, a silver and a fourth through three of a potential seven events. He posted the fastest 200 IM time in the world this year. Hagino, 18, won his second silver of the meet.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) 2:19.11 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.85
3. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:22.88
4. Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:23.23
5. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:23.28
6. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.14
7. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:24.19
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:24.68

Summary
The Dane Pedersen destroyed Rebecca Soni‘s world record of 2:19.59 from out of nowhere and couldn’t stop screaming after touching the wall. Pedersen’s previous best time was 2:20.53, and she was fourth at the Olympics. Efimova is the reigning world silver and Olympic bronze medalist. Lawrence was 1.5 seconds slower than her prelim personal best time, but she’s in the medal picture.

Men’s 100 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: James Magnussen (AUS) 47.71

Silver: Jimmy Feigen (USA) 47.82
Bronze: Nathan Adrian (USA) 47.84
4. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 47.88
5. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.02
6. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 38.28
7. Fabie Gilot (FRA) 48.33
8. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.58

Summary
Magnussen defends his world title and takes down Adrian, who beat him by .01 at the Olympics. Feigen, who bounced back from a poor 4×100 free relay swim to qualify second into the final, wins a surprise silver over Adrian. Magnussen was fifth at the turn behind Morozov, who went out a quarter-second under world record pace. Magnussen won the world title despite going two tenths slower than his world-leading time of 2013. He celebrated by sitting on the lane line, flexing his biceps and pointing his index finger in the air.

Women’s 200 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Liu Zige (CHN) 2:04.59

Silver: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:04.78
Bronze: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:05.59
4. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 2:06.09
5. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:06.58
6. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:06.65
7. Camille Adams (USA) 2:07.73
8. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:08.40

Summary
Liu, the 2008 Olympic champion and world record holder, was dead even with Belmonte Garcia going to the final 50. Of course, the crowd was going nuts. They were chanting the Spaniard’s name well after the race ended. Belmonte Garcia was trying to become the first Spanish swimmer born in Spain to win an Olympic or world title. Hosszu added bronze to her 200 IM gold. Adams was fifth at the Olympics and had qualified second into the final.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:08.50
2. Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.61
2. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.11
2. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (RUS) 2:09.47
3. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.96
6. Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:09.96
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:10.00
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.01

Summary
Kevin Cordes
, the U.S. and NCAA champion, was a half-second under world record pace at 100 meters in his semifinal and faded badly to finish fourth and miss the final. Gyurta is the favorite, the Olympic champion and two-time defending world champion. Keep an eye out for Jamieson, who has the fastest time in the world this year, and Yamaguchi, 18, who broke Gyurta’s world record a month after the Olympics.

Women’s 50 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.29

Silver: Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.39
Bronze: Aya Terakawa (JPN) 27.53
4. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 27.83
5. Mercedes Paris (ESP) 27.93
6. Georgia Davies (GBR) 27.96
7. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 28.05
8. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.33

Summary
This is not an Olympic event. Franklin actually entered it and qualified for the semifinals Wednesday before pulling out. Zhao upset her favored countrywoman Fu, who had been three tenths faster than everyone in the semifinals. Zhao also won this event in 2009. Terakawa was the 2011 silver medalist.

Men’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.16
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:55.88
3. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:56.14
3. Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:56.14
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.24
6. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:56.42
7. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:56.97
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:57.37

Summary
Lochte navigated his two-swim night pretty well after winning the 200 IM. He’ll look to dethrone the Olympic champion Clary. Irie, who has the fastest time in the world this year, took silver in the Olympic final, above Lochte’s bronze. Lochte is the defending world champion though. It would be a slight surprise to see anybody else medal, but Kawecki and the teen Hagino have a shot.

Women’s 4×200 Free Relay Final

Results
Gold: USA 7:45.14

Silver: Australia 7:47.98
Bronze: France 7:48.43
4. China 7:49.79
5. Spain 7:53.20
6. Canada 7:55.48
7. Italy 7:57.91
8. Japan 7:58.15

Summary
That makes three golds for Katie Ledecky and four golds for Missy Franklin at worlds. Ledecky has one event left (800 free) to finish four for four. Franklin, who swam an incredible anchor leg after going in more than one second behind Australia, has three events to go. Ledecky gave the U.S. the lead with a 1:56.32, beating the 200 free bronze medalist Camille Muffat of France. France took the lead after American Shannon Vreeland‘s second leg. Karlee Bispo of the U.S. swam the third leg, passing France, but being passed by Australia. Alicia Coutts of Australia took a 1.12-second lead onto the final leg. Franklin cut it to .06 after the first 50 of the anchor leg, then took a 1.16 lead on the next 50. Franklin’s 1:54.27 split was 1.75 seconds faster than any of the other 31 swimmers.

FINA president believes Phelps is coming back

Ashley Wagner ‘sick’ of hearing about her age

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KANSAS CITY — Ashley Wagner can become the oldest U.S. women’s figure skating champion in 90 years, but it would not be wise to tell her that.

“I think that this sport focuses on age way too much,” the three-time U.S. champion Wagner, 25, said in a press conference after Thursday night’s short program at Sprint Center (recap, videos here). “I’m so sick of hearing about my age. I’m so sick of it guys. If anybody asks me one more question about my age, I’ll just stop talking. It’s ridiculous.”

Wagner placed third in the short program, 1.88 points behind leader Karen Chen, who is 17 years old. She’ll try to surpass Chen in the free skate Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Chen sat in Thursday’s press conference between Wagner and second-place Mirai Nagasu, a 23-year-old who won the U.S. title way back in 2008.

“They’re my role models,” Chen said. “I watched them skate for years and years.”

Wagner then interjected before the next question.

“You just made both of us feel so old,” Wagner said, drawing laughter.

Truth is, Wagner is often asked about her age, her experience, her highs and lows, and answers respectfully and with wisdom. She did again after competing Thursday night for the first time in nearly two months, under the pressure as U.S. Championships favorite.

“I choose to view the word ‘veteran’ as experienced, and experience is never a bad thing, because I’ve gone through the good experiences and the brutally terrible awful experiences,” said Wagner, who last season earned world championships silver, ending a 10-year U.S. women’s drought.

NBC Olympics analyst Tara Lipinski was surprised to learn Wagner wasn’t particularly interested in questions about her age.

“Age is definitely a factor,” Lipinski said Friday. “You can pretend it’s not, but it is. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t, but it was. It was talked about a lot. I was too young [winning the Olympics at age 15]. Whether it’s the opposite [age] range, age is a factor.”

Wagner competes in a sport where, in other top countries, crops of teens are replaced by the next crop of teens. At last month’s Japanese and Russian Championships, the oldest women’s podium finisher was 18 years old.

Wagner may be past the usual prime years for skaters, but Lipinski pointed out that being (very) young has its disadvantages.

“I felt that I didn’t have a lot to draw on,” said Lipinski, who at 14 became the youngest U.S. women’s champion in 1997. “I didn’t have a lot of outside perspectives. Skating was my life. So any small mistake took me so down, and it was very hard for me to put this sport in perspective.”

Wagner was asked if she worried she may have peaked with that 2016 World Championships silver medal.

“If I peaked,” she said, “I would have retired.”

If Wagner makes the PyeongChang Winter Games, she would become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928. Which would actually be an incredible accomplishment in a teen-dominated sport.

That sort of statistic was probably furthest from her mind in Thursday’s press conference.

“We definitely need a new crop of girls to come in,” Wagner said, cracking a smile, “because I will die one day.”

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating head says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016, file photo, Nathan Chen of the United States, competes in the men's short program at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating final in Marseille, southern France. The 17-year-old's revelatory performance at last month's Grand Prix final in France has made him American figure skating's bright new star. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
AP
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U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage continues Friday, live on NBCSN, Universal HD and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app, starting at 6 p.m. ET.

The short dance and men’s short programs are scheduled in Kansas City.

The NBC Sports All-Access page will provide live scoring and more all week.

Short dance
6-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

Men’s short program
8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

In dance, defending champions Maia and Alex Shibutani take on two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. They’re heavy favorites for the three world championships berths.

Nathan Chen leads the men’s field, seeking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966. He faces past champions Jason Brown and Max Aaron with two worlds berths at stake this weekend

The free dance will be Saturday and the men’s free skate Sunday, both on NBC and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss says Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang