U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Murphy, Blake Pieroni and Olivia Smoliga won individual short-course world titles in Hangzhou, China, on Wednesday.
The U.S. also broke world records in winning two relays — the women’s 4x50m medley and mixed-gender 4x50m freestyle.
Murphy, who swept the Rio backstrokes, led off by edging Chinese rival Xu Jiayu by .03 in the 100m back. Xu had relegated Murphy to bronze at the 2017 World Championships in the standard Olympic-size pool.
Smoliga upset Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu and world-record holder Kathleen Baker in the women’s 100m back, touching .07 ahead of the Hungarian superstar. Baker was fifth.
Pieroni, a veteran U.S. freestyler on relays, earned his first individual global gold medal. Pieroni won the 200m free despite being the slowest qualifier into the final. He beat Lithuanian Danas Rapsys by .29. Olympic and 2017 World champion Sun Yang of China is not racing short-course worlds.
Short-course worlds are held in even-numbered years in a 25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used at the Olympics. U.S. Olympic champions Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Lilly King are among those not competing this week.
In other events Wednesday, triple Rio Olympic champion Hosszu overtook American Kelsi Dahlia in the final strokes of the 200m butterfly, winning by .13. Dahlia lowered her American record by 1.16 seconds.
South African Cameron van der Burgh turned back the clock to win the 100m breaststroke from lane seven by .07. Van der Burgh, 30, won the 2012 Olympic 100m breast but ceded to Brit Adam Peaty in the last Olympic cycle. Peaty is not at short-course worlds.
Worlds continue Thursday, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.
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