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BARCELONA, Spain, July 31. SHE had to hold on for dear life as the two-time defending champion made a sizzling final push, but Missy Franklin stood atop the podium for the third time this week after winning the women’s 200-meter freestyle at the FINA World Championships.
Once she took over the lead at the 100-meter mark with a 55.56, Franklin never relinquished it en route to winning in 1:54.81. That’s the seventh fastest performance of all time in the event, and is the first time Franklin has cleared 1:55 with her previous personal best having been a 1:55.06 from the 2011 FINA World Championships.
Franklin, who already claimed gold in the women’s 400-meter freestyle relay and the women’s 100-meter backstroke, is on pace for a historic outing. Kristin Otto holds the record for most medals in a single meet by a female with four golds and two silvers in 1986, and Franklin has a chance to eclipse that record although she did scratch one of her medal opportunities in the women’s 50-meter backstroke. Franklin is also hunting Libby (Lenton) Trickett’s five gold medal haul in 2007.
Two-time champion Federica Pellegrini showed the heart of a champion when she roared home in 29.07, but ran out of room to chase down Franklin as she took second in 1:55.14. That’s her fastest time in textile, bettering a 1:55.45 from the 2010 European Championships with what is now the 16th fastest time ever in the event.
France’s Camille Muffat, who had been the early favorite with a world-leading 1:55.48 from French Nationals earlier this year, couldn’t replicate that swim as she settled for bronze in 1:55.72. That’s Muffat’s second consecutive bronze medal performance in the event.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (1:56.63), Spain’s Melanie Costa Schmid (1:57.04), Australia’s Kylie Palmer (1:57.14), USA’s Shannon Vreeland (1:57.41) and France’s Charlotte Bonnet (1:57.56) also competed in the championship heat.