Missy Franklin stands alone
Missy Franklin entered elite company Sunday as she won her sixth gold medal at the swimming world championships.
The 18-year-old Franklin became the most successful female swimmer ever at the worlds and improved on her performance at the London Olympics, where she was one of the biggest stars with four golds and a bronze. She eclipsed the women's record that had had been shared by Tracy Caulkins, who won five times at the 1978 worlds, and Libby Trickett, who did it in 2007.
Franklin also joins Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Australia's Ian Thorpe and East Germany's Kristin Otto as the only swimmers to capture as many as six golds at either worlds or an Olympics. "I still can't really believe that it happened," Franklin said. The Aussies took the silver in 3:55.22. Russia held on for the bronze (3:56.47).
Franklin completed a grueling week in which she competed in eight events. She dropped out of the 50 backstroke after swimming in the preliminaries of the non-OIympic event, wanting to focus on more important races, and took fourth in the 100 freestyle. Otherwise, it was all gold.
"I knew I had to get out there for my team," Franklin said. "We had really tough competition in that race, so we were sitting there in the ready room and we said, 'No matter what happens, we're just going to do our best and have fun and we can't let each other down if we do that.' So I just went out there and it hurt really, really bad, but now we're done and we're all super excited."
The victory in the final race of the meet came after a stunning result for the Americans in the next-to-last event.
The men appeared to have an easy victory in their 400 medley relay, but 19-year-old breaststroker Kevin Cordes, the least experienced member of the foursome, left too soon on the exchange between the first and second legs. The US team, which touched nearly one and a half seconds ahead of France, was disqualified. The French moved up to take the gold, while the silver went to Australia and Japan snatched the bronze.
"A relay disqualification is not a particular individual's fault," said Nathan Adrian, who swam the freestyle anchor in vain. "It's Team USA's fault and it falls on all of our shoulders."