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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. MISSY Franklin turned in one of the most impressive anchors in recent memory as she deliver gold to the Stars and Stripes in the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay at the FINA World Championships.
While the rest of the relay proved to be pretty exciting with USA, Australia and France trading the lead often, Franklin proved that there really was no competition as she turned a one-second deficit into two-second triumph for the Red, White and Blue with an astonishing 1:54.27 anchor leg. Her split beat every other split by nearly two seconds.
In the end, Katie Ledecky (1:56.32), Shannon Vreeland (1:56.97), Karlee Bispo (1:57.58) and Franklin (1:54.27) combined to win the event in 7:45.14 as the U.S. defended its title from 2011 and has now won five of the last six world titles in the event.
The storylines coming out of this swim are numerous.
First, Franklin collected her fourth gold medal of the meet, as she already prevailed in the 100 back, 200 free and 400 freestyle relays. That gives her seven world titles in her career as she is beginning to move up the charts of the best of all time, and she hasn’t even gone to college yet.
Most World Titles
Libby (Lenton) Trickett — 9 (15 total medals)
Kornelia Ender — 8 (10 total medals)
Natalie Coughlin — 8 (20 total medals)
Jenny Thompson — 7 (14 total medals)
Leisel Jones — 7 (14 total medals)
Kristin Otto — 7 (9 total medals)
Katie Hoff — 7 (all gold)
Missy Franklin — 7 (9 total medals)
Franklin is on track to match Trickett’s five gold medals in a single meet from 2007, and should give Otto’s total medal record of six (four gold, two silver) a run as well.
The other lightning fast teenager on the relay, Ledecky, remained undefeated in Olympic or World Championships competition with her third gold of the meet. Last summer, she took down the 800 freestyle Olympic gold medal with a breakthrough swim, and has settled into the role of favorite quite nicely this year. With the 800 free still to come, Ledecky is looking at four golds this week to go with a 400/800/1500 sweep that including a stunning 1500-meter freestyle world record.
Bispo, the first Texas World Champion since 2001, had a stunning rise to the status of world champ. She initially missed out on the World roster before Ledecky dropped the 200 free from her schedule to move Bispo onto the squad. Bispo then threw down the top split this morning, and earned her spot on the vaunted relay tonight.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Bronte Barratt (1:57.04), Kylie Palmer (1:56.29), Brittany Elmslie (1:56.42) and Alicia Coutts (1:57.33) finished second in 7:47.08. Coutts now has six career world medals, including four silvers from this meet already with runner-up finishes in both relays, the 100 fly and 200 IM.
France’s Camille Muffat (1:56.45), Charlotte Bonnet (1:56.81), Mylene Lazare (1:59.15) and Coralie Balmy (1:56.02) finished third in 7:48.43.
China (7:49.79), Spain (7:53.20), Canada (7:55.48), Italy (7:57.91) and Japan (7:58.15) also competed in the finale.