BARCELONA – American swimmers won four medals – two gold and two bronze – Friday at the 15th FINA World Championships. Leading the way was Ryan Lochte, who won gold in the men’s 200m backstroke (1:53.79) and the men’s 800m free relay.
Swimming in the relay with Lochte was Conor Dwyer, Charlie Houchin and Ricky Berens. Their final time was 7:01.72.
Tyler Clary and Micah Lawrence also medaled for the U.S. on day 6 at Palau Sant Jordi pool, with Clary taking bronze in the men’s 200m back in 1:54.64. Lawrence took bronze in the women’s 200m breaststroke in 2:22.37.
The United States has now won 24 medals in Barcelona – 11 gold, six silver and seven bronze. It leads all teams in both gold medals and total medal count.
Men’s 200m Backstroke
The 200m back was the first of three swims for Lochte Friday. He also qualified first in the semifinal of the men’s 100m butterfly (51.48), then went on to help the Americans to gold in the 800m free relay.
Lochte took the lead from the start of the men’s 200m backstroke and held on through the finish for gold by a half a body-length over runner-up Radoslaw Kawecki of Poland, who touched in 1:54.24. Clary moved into third at the 100-meter mark and stayed there for the bronze.
Americans have won gold at the last eight World Championships in this event. Lochte has won three of those – in 2007, 2011 and this year.
“The 200 back is probably one of the hardest events on your legs and just your body in general,” Lochte said. “I think it’s the exact same time I went at the Olympics, and with the little amount of training I’ve done this year, I think that’s going to set me up pretty good for 2016.”
Lochte and Clary also finished first and third at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai. Then last year at the Olympic Games in London, it was Clary who took gold while Lochte took bronze.
“I will call it something I can live with,” Clary said. “I haven’t placed higher than third in that event at a World Championships. To be able to tie that after the year I had is not too bad. I didn’t really feel like myself in the water until after World Championship Trials, and my only goal was to come in and have a really good race technically. I executed my details well and wanted to go 1:54-mid, and that’s exactly what I did.”
The Men’s 800m Free Relay
Dwyer, who took silver in the 200m free earlier in the week, led off the 800m free relay and put the team in third position at the 200-meter mark, behind Russia and France. Lochte then took the lead in the second leg by six-tenths over Russia. His split of 1:44.98 was the second-fastest in the 32-man field.
Houchin increased the Americans’ lead to about a body length in the third leg, and Berens brought them home. Russia finished second in 7:03.92, while China was third in 7:04.74.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the triple,” Lochte said. “I was just focusing on my first race, after that focusing on my second and then my third. No matter what the outcome was in the first and second race, I had to pull it together for Team USA.
“When you get together for a relay, you don’t care about the pain. You don’t care about anything like that. You just get up there and put together a good race for the other guys.”
The U.S. has now won this race at five straight World Championships and has not lost the 800m free relay on the international stage since 2003.
“That’s always going through your head – protecting that (tradition),” Berens said. “It’s a different race without Phelps, but we’re here to show the world we’re all right.”
Women’s 200m Breaststroke
Lawrence knew she was in for a tough race in tonight’s finals of the women’s 200m breaststroke. In Thursday’s semifinals, two swimmers – Russia’s Yuliya Efimova and Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen – swam under the 2 minute, 20 second mark, with Pedersen breaking the world record in 2:19.11.
Lawrence said her plan was to take the race out controlled and relaxed and hopefully be in striking distance near the end. It didn’t work out quite that way, but Lawrence said she was happy with her bronze medal. Efimova was first in 2:19.41, followed by Pedersen in 2:20.08.
Lawrence was swimming in her first long course World Championship final. Her third place was an improvement over her sixth-place finish in this event at last year’s Olympic Games.
“It’s really my first international medal, so that’s pretty cool,” Lawrence said. “It was pretty crazy having two people go under 2:20 (in semifinals), and then one of them did it again tonight. Everyone is fast at this level. You’ve got to swim your own race, and you can’t be paying too much attention to everyone around you. It is a race, though, so eventually you’re going to have to buck up and beat them.”
Women’s 100m Freestyle
Missy Franklin missed the medal stand in the women’s 100m freestyle by just five-hundredths of a second, finishing fourth behind the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo, 53.47 to 53.42. Cate Campbell of Australia took gold in 52.34, followed by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden in 52.89. The United States’ Shannon Vreeland was eighth in 54.49.
Men’s 200m Breaststroke
No American swimmers competed in the final of the men’s 200m breaststroke. Daniel Gyurta of Hungary won gold in a meet record time of 2:07.23. Marco Koch of Germany won silver in 2:08.54, and Mattie Mattson of Finland won bronze in 2:08.95.
Anthony Ervin missed the American record in the men’s 50m freestyle in tonight’s semifinals by two-hundredths of a second.
Here’s a look at how other American swimmers fared in Friday’s semis: Missy Franklin, 1st, women’s 200m backstroke (2:06.46); Elizabeth Pelton, 3rd, women’s 200m backstroke (2:08.20); Anthony Ervin, 2nd, men’s 50m freestyle (21.42); Nathan Adrian, 3rd, men’s 50m freestyle (21.60); Ryan Lochte, 1st, men’s 100m butterfly (51.48); Eugene Godsoe, 11th, men’s 100m butterfly (51.96). Dana Vollmer, 5th, women’s 50m butterfly (26.06); Christine Magnuson, 10th, women’s 50m butterfly (26.19).
The top eight swimmers in each event will compete in tomorrow night’s finals.
The 15th FINA World Championships continues Saturday. For complete results, go to www.omegatiming.com.
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