Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins fifth gold, Katie Ledecky wins fourth gold at world swimming championships

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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.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final

Results
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

Summary
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

Results
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

Summary
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

Results
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

Summary
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

Summary
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

Results
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

Summary
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

Summary
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

Summary
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

Results
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

Summary
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).

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Caeleb Dressel, after 7 golds in 2017, is on record watch at swim worlds

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For Caeleb Dressel, the comparisons began in earnest two years ago when he matched Michael Phelps‘ record seven gold medals at a single world championships (albeit two were in mixed-gender relays that weren’t on the program when Phelps swam).

They will likely spread at this summer’s worlds, which begin Sunday in Gwangju, South Korea (TV schedule here). And they likely won’t dissipate through the next year and the Tokyo Olympics.

For as Dressel endured new obstacles in and out of the pool last summer, winning two of seven individual races at the two major 2018 meets, he came back this May and June with his fastest times since 2017 Worlds.

“I personally think he’s going to break three world records,” next week, NBC Sports analyst Rowdy Gaines said. “I think he’s going to break two for sure, 50m and 100m freestyle. The only one that’s doubtful, to me, would be the 100m fly.”

Dressel, the former prep prodigy who left the sport for five months before joining the University of Florida team in 2014, is expected to swim no less than the same program next week that he did in 2017.

That would mean eight races — the 50m and 100m freestyles and butterflies, the 4x100m free, 4x100m medley and two mixed-gender relays. Two years ago, Dressel won seven of eight, surprisingly taking fourth in the 50m fly (which is not on the Olympic program).

His coach in Gainesville, Gregg Troy, did not rule out adding a ninth event as part of the 4x200m free. However, that would likely give Dressel three swims in one session next Friday and next Saturday, something Phelps never did in his prime when contesting eight events at the Olympics and worlds.

The 2020 question is whether Dressel will try to swim a Phelpsian eight events in Toyko. With no 50m fly and only one mixed-gender relay on the Olympic program, he must add two events to get to eight, perhaps the 200m free and 4x200m free relay.

“I’m not too sure,” Dressel said. “I just want to stay focused on this year. I’ve got the biggest meet of my year coming up in less than a week. I’ll get through this meet, and then me and Troy, we’ll start looking forward next year and maybe add some new events. But I’m not too sure at the moment.”

Dressel turned pro last spring after an unprecedented NCAA career, where his routine included carrying a blue bandana in his mouth on the pool deck. The demands on his time were new, from choosing an agent to signing with a swimwear company.

Troy, who coached Ryan Lochte in his prime to overtake Phelps as the world’s best swimmer in 2011, said he may have overtrained Dressel before last summer’s nationals and Pan Pacific Championships.

After Pan Pacs, Dressel revealed that an earlier motorcycle incident where he was forced off the road by another motorist, but didn’t suffer serious injury, maybe interfered with training.

Now, Dressel chalks that summer to uncharacteristically poor swimming at the wrong time. “I can put as many excuses as I want on that, but that’s really just what it was,” he said. “I mean, it happens to athletes all over the world.

“I’m glad it happened when it did. It can mess with you. It can turn into a downward spiral of self-doubt if you don’t just pick and choose what you want to learn from bad experiences like that. I don’t take it as all too negative. I certainly wouldn’t want it to happen again. Just a bad meet. Move on from it.”

Troy went further, noting the scrutiny on Dressel. Phelps is retired, Lochte suspended (and, at age 34, staving off Father Time), creating an opening for a male U.S. swim star to pair with Katie Ledecky. In 2017, Dressel became that alpha.

“It’s one thing being the guy coming up. It’s another thing being the guy that’s hunted,” Troy said this week. “He’s a little more mature to handle all the outside factors that we had to deal with last summer.”

In 2017, Dressel’s winning times in the 50m and 100m freestyles and the 100m butterfly were a combined .56 shy of three world records. This year, he’s ranked Nos. 1, 3 and 5 in the world in those events.

His 2019 times are a combined .64 faster than his best pre-worlds times in 2017, which is why some believe he’s in for a special week in South Korea. But not everyone buys that logic.

“The meets leading up to it don’t really mean too much,” Dressel demurred.

Dressel didn’t have to peak this year for an NCAA Championships or a nationals (the world team was decided last summer) like in 2017. He had the luxury of putting all his focus the last several months on Gwangju.

“My gut feeling,” Gaines said, “I think he’s going to destroy ’em.”

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World’s fastest mom leads London Diamond League fields; stream schedule

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Jamaican sprinters headline this weekend’s Diamond League meet in London, while most American stars rest up for next week’s USATF Outdoor Championships.

Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceElaine Thompson and Yohan Blake dot the two-day meet at the 2012 Olympic Stadium. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage each morning at 8:15 and 8:50 ET.

Fraser-Pryce and Thompson, who combined to win the last three Olympic 100m and share the fastest time in the world this year of 10.73 seconds, are in separate events in London.

Fraser-Pryce goes in the 100m against the fastest women from Europe and Africa. Thompson faces a less daunting field in the 200m; she’s the only entrant who has run sub-22.3. They could both double up in the 100m and 200m at the world championships in Doha in two months.

As for Blake, he races after being called out by former training partner Usain Bolt for leaving their shared coach of several years, Glen Mills. Blake is the second-fastest man in history but hasn’t been within two tenths of his personal-best 9.69 in nearly seven years.

Here are the London entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

Saturday
8:15 a.m. — Men’s Long Jump
9:04 — Women’s 400m
9:09 — Women’s Pole Vault
9:13 — Men’s 5000m
9:20 — Women’s Javelin
9:40 — Men’s Triple Jump
9:55 — Men’s 800m
10:06 — Women’s 200m
10:17 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
10:29 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
10:39 — Women’s 1500m
10:50 — Men’s 100m

Sunday
8:50 a.m. — Men’s Discus
9:04 — Men’s 400m
9:20 — Men’s High Jump
9:35 — Women’s 800m
9:40 — Women’s Long Jump
9:45 — Men’s Mile
9:56 — Women’s 5000m
10:19 — Men’s 200m
10:29 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
10:39 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
10:50 — Women’s 100m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s 800m — Saturday, 9:55 a.m. ET
Perhaps the greatest race in history came on this track at the 2012 London Games — the men’s 800m final won by David Rudisha in a world record. Botswana’s Nijel Amos took silver that day at age 18 to become the fourth-fastest man ever. Amos has not earned a global championship medal since, but last Friday he clocked his fastest 800m since that evening in London. Here, he faces the next-fastest man in the world this year, Kenyan Ferguson Rotich, and the fastest man of 2017 and 2018, Kenyan Emmanuel Korir.

Men’s 100m — Saturday, 10:50 a.m. ET
Blake hasn’t raced a Diamond League this season and last won on this stage in 2017. Here, he gets an opportunity with the world’s fastest men — all Americans — sitting out. Andre De Grasse, who like Blake has been slowed by leg injuries, is the other marquee name, but he hasn’t broken 10 seconds in 13 tries since taking bronze in Rio, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Men’s Discus — Sunday, 8:50 a.m. ET
Perhaps the deepest field of the meet with the Olympic and world gold and silver medalists and the top three in the world this year. The favorite has to be Swede Daniel Ståhl, who takes up nine of the first 11 spots on the 2019 top list. Ståhl broke the Swedish record three weeks ago with the world’s top throw in 11 years.

Women’s 5000m — Sunday, 9:56 a.m. ET
Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan follows up her world record in the mile (4:12.33) from the last Diamond League stop in Monaco. Hassan was primarily a 1500m runner through the Rio Olympics (where she was fifth) but since added 5000m work. She faces the ultimate test here in world champion Hellen Obiri, the only woman who has been faster over the last two years.

Women’s 100m — Sunday, 10:50 a.m. ET
Fraser-Pryce owns fond memories at this track, though she missed the 2017 World Championships in London due to childbirth. She won her second Olympic 100m in London in 2012 and scored her first post-baby Diamond League win here last summer. Fraser-Pryce has a chance to become the third woman to break 10.75 three times in one year, joining Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988) and Marion Jones (1998). She could get the necessary push from Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Brit Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest in the world in 2018.

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