Lochte claims another gold, Franklin finally loses
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Missy Franklin finally lost.
Ryan Lochte is suddenly on a winning streak.
Lochte began one of the most grueling days of his swimming career with another world championship Friday, beating reigning Olympic champ and teammate Tyler Clary in the 200-meter backstroke.
Lochte still had two more races to go, including the 4x200 freestyle relay.
Franklin also had a busy night, but the first race didn’t go as she hoped. The 18-year-old American finished fourth in the 100 free, ending a run of four straight victories at the Palau Sant Jordi.
She shook off the defeat, coming back about 25 minutes later to easily post the top qualifying time in the semifinals of the 200 back. She’ll be a heavy favorite in that race Saturday night — she’s the Olympic champion and world-record holder — which leaves her still on course to at least match Tracy Caulkins of the U.S. and Libby Trickett of Australia as the only women to win five events at worlds.
Caulkins won her five at the 1978 meet in Berlin, while Trickett did it in her home championships at Melbourne in 2007.
“I’m a little bummed,” Franklin said. “I learned a lot, which is the most important thing. I think the 100 free is the event I definitely have the most room to improve on.”
Franklin will have one more event after the backstroke — Sunday’s 4x100 medley relay — so she’s got a shot at joining Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to win as many as six golds at either worlds or the Olympics.
Lochte got off to a slow start in Barcelona, taking silver as part of the 4x100 free relay and finishing fourth in the 200 free. He admittedly had not trained as much as he normally does, taking time off after the London Olympics as well as starring in a reality TV show. But any thought he was in for a disappointing championships ended with a victory in the 200 individual medley.
Then he made it two in a row in the backstroke.
Lochte pushed the early pace, leading at the first flip, and had enough to hold off his challengers. His winning time was 1 minute, 53.79 seconds — 0.45 ahead of Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki. Clary settled for bronze.
The race was the first of three that Lochte had in about a 90-minute span. He also qualified for the semifinals of the 100 butterfly, and was finishing the night by swimming the second leg on the relay.
Cate Campbell of Australia easily won the women’s 100 free. She pushed the pace from right the start, making the flip more than a half-second under world-record pace. She had more than enough to hold on, touching in 52.34, a half-body length in front of silver-medalist Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands edged Franklin for the bronze by 0.05.
“I don’t think it really sunk in until I got out of the pool and I heard all the Aussies in the crowd chanting,” Campbell said. “In the water I was just like, ‘Why are all these people hugging me? What’s going on?’”
There was no time for Franklin to mope.
After climbing from the pool, she took a shortcut to the training pool to get ready for the 200 back — her favorite event. Franklin posted a time of 2:06.46, giving her the prime middle lane for the final. Elizabeth Pelton of the U.S. also advanced with the third-fastest time.
Yuliya Efimova of Russia pulled off an upset in the women’s 200 breaststroke, beating Rikke Pedersen one night after the Danish swimmer set a world record in the semifinals.
Efimova got to the wall just ahead of Pedersen, winning in 2:19.41. Pederson will leave Barcelona with her name in the record book but only a silver medal around her neck, touching in 2:20.08 — nearly a second slower than her semis time of 2:19.11. Micah Lawrence of the U.S. grabbed the bronze.
Florent Manaudou of France went fastest in the semifinals of the chaotic 50 freestyle — a mad dash from end of the pool to the other. His time of 21.37 was just ahead of American Anthony Ervin (21.42). Nathan Adrian of the U.S. and Brazil’s Cesar Cielo tied for third at 21.60.
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