The next to last day of the world swimming championships belonged to a pair of U.S. female teenagers.
Missy Franklin, 18, cruised to victory in her signature event, the 200-meter backstroke, in 2 minutes, 4.76 seconds. It marked her fifth gold of the meet, matching the record for most golds by a woman at a single world championships.
She could break that mark in her final event, the medley relay, on Sunday. If she wins a medal of any kind Sunday, she’ll tie the record for most medals won by a woman at a single worlds, currently shared by East German Kristin Otto and Americans Shirley Babashoff and Tracy Caulkins. Otto also won six golds at the 1988 Olympics.
Franklin’s coolest prize might have been a soccer jersey (No. 2016) given to her by Brazilians after her victory.
Katie Ledecky, 16, finished her first world championships with her fourth gold medal (in as many events) and her second world record. She followed up her Olympic title in the 800 freestyle with the world title in the event, coming back to beat Denmark’s Lotte Friis in 8:13.86.
Ledecky is the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining German Hannah Stockbauer, who did it in 2003 at the same Palau Sant Jordi pool in Barcelona.
An eye-popping stat on Ledecky and the 800: her world record is more than three seconds faster than her age group’s national record in the 800 free relay. USA Swimming correspondent Mike Gustafson pointed that out.
Also Saturday, Ryan Lochte took sixth in the 100 butterfly, a new event for him on the worlds stage. South African Chad le Clos won it, adding to his 200 fly world and Olympic titles.
The world’s fastest swimmer was crowned in the men’s 50 free. Brazilian Cesar Cielo won the splash and dash for the third straight time at worlds, celebrated vigorously and then cried uncontrollably on the medal stand.
Another world record was set in the women’s 50 breaststroke, and a 17-year-old American woman made the finals of the 50 free with a personal best time, too. Scroll down for full results, analysis and quotes.
Women’s 50 Butterfly Final
Gold: Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.24
Silver: Lu Ying (CHN) 25.42
Bronze: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 25.53
4. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.70
5. Inge Dekker (NED) 25.83
6. Melanie Henique (FRA) 25.96
7. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.17
8. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.46
This is a non-Olympic event. Vollmer, the Olympic champion in the 100 butterfly, was a medal hope after recovering from her illness that kept her to bronze in the 100 earlier this week. But Ottesen, the gold-medal favorite, took the lead off the start and never let up. Kromowidjojo adds a second bronze to her third in the 100 free. Halsall’s fourth means Britain still has no medals in Barcelona this week.
Men’s 50 Freestyle Final
Gold: Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.32
Silver: Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.47
Bronze: George Bovell (TRI) 21.51
4. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.60
5. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.64
6. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.65
7. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 21.85
8. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 21.93
Cielo had his typical screaming, splashing, flexing celebration. The Brazilian world record holder won his third straight world title in the splash and dash. Ervin had a terrible start after his best swim ever in the semifinals. Manaudou was a disappointment after winning the Olympic title and qualifying fastest into the final. Adrian did well as he has never medaled in this event at a worlds or Olympics. Bovell, 30, wins his first worlds or Olympics medal since a 200 individual medley bronze in 2004.
“I was surprised and pleased at the same time,” Cielo told BBC Two. “It was a great feeling, and I couldn’t be happier. … This time I had a little luck on my side.”
Women’s 200 Backstroke Final
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 2:04.76
Silver: Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:06.66
Bronze: Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:06.80
4. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:08.72
5. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:08.98
6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:09.08
7. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:10.46
8. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:11.30
Franklin wins her fifth gold of the meet, matching a world championships record for a woman. She was the extremely heavy favorite here, the Olympic and world champion and the world record holder. She led after every split and won by daylight. Franklin has one event left, the medley relay Sunday, to set a record with six golds. Hocking repeats her silver from 2011 worlds. Pelton came in with a great shot at silver given she is the second fastest in the event this year.
Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals
Advance To Final
1. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 29.48 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.88
3. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.90
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.20
5. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.31
6. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 30.57
7. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.61
8. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.66
Meilutyte broke an eight-hour-old world record by three tenths of a second — a large margin in a 50-meter event. Efimova broke Hardy’s world record in this non-Olympic event in the morning prelims. Both of Hardy’s breaststroke world records have been beaten in Barcelona (Meilutyte also took her 100 breast mark). Hardy still won bronze in the 100 breast, and she’s one of the three medal favorites here going into Sunday’s final with Meilutyte and Efimova. If any slip up, Larson would be the favorite to replace them on the podium.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” Meilutyte told BBC Two. “No matter if it’s semi or not, I have it. It’s amazing.”
Men’s 100 Butterfly Final
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.06
Silver: Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.45
Bronze: Konrad Czerniak (POL) 51.46
4. Steffen Diebler (GER) 51.54
5. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.57
6. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.58
7. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 51.65
7. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 51.55
Lochte was in seventh place at the 50, and throughout the final 50 you expected a Michael Phelps-like comeback to get on the podium. It didn’t happen. Had Lochte repeated his personal best from the semifinals, he would have finished fourth. He has the medley relay left Sunday to finish the meet with a potential four golds and one silver. Le Clos jumped from fifth at the turn to complement his 200 butterfly world title earlier this week. Afterward, le Clos’ dad invited Lochte to his family’s gold-medal party and then cried on BBC Two coverage. Cseh won his ninth career world championship medal.
Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Advance To Final
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.19
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 24.33
3. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 24.54
4. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.61
5. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.62
6. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.65
7. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.85
8. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.91
The Australian Campbell sisters went one-two in lanes right next to each other in the second semifinal. Cate won the 100 freestyle earlier this week and is a big favorite to take the final Sunday. Kromowidjojo is the Olympic champion, defending world silver medalist and the second fastest in the world this year. She ought to win silver. Halsall will hope to win Britain’s first medal at worlds Sunday. Manuel, who turned 17 Friday, squeaked into the final with a personal best. Natalie Coughlin, the most decorated female swimmer in worlds history, missed the final.
Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals
Advance To Final
1. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.39
2. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.45
3. Guy Barnea (ISR) 24.73
4. Matt Grevers (USA) 24.79
4. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.79
6. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.90
7. Jonatan Kopolev (ISR) 24.95
7. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 24.95
American David Plummer surprisingly missed the final, finishing 16th and last among all semifinalists despite coming in with the fastest time in the world this year. He reportedly slipped at the start, an issue for multiple swimmers this week. Instead, the French duo that shared the 100-meter backstroke world title in 2011 go in as favorites. Grevers, the 100 back champ this year, is also a medal threat. Barnea won the first semifinal, which is notable because Israel has never won a world medal.
Women’s 800 Freestyle Final
Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:13.86 WR
Silver: Lotte Friis (DEN) 8:16.32
Bronze: Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:18.59
4. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 8:21.21
5. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 8:21.99
6. Chloe Sutton (USA) 8:27.75
7. Martina de Memme (ITA) 8:29.37
8. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 8:37.29
Ledecky was more than one second behind Friis at the halfway point, where Friis was almost a half-second under world record pace. Ledecky passed Friis by 650 meters and pulled away over the final 100 for an easy win and her second world record of the meet. She broke the mark held by Rebecca Adlington, who had predicted days before the race that Ledecky would take it. Ledecky finished her first world championships with four golds in four events. The 16-year-old became the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles (400, 800, 1,500) in worlds history (though the 1500 has only been a part of the worlds program since 1997).