BARCELONA, Catalonia: Missy Franklin of the United States picked up her fifth gold at swimming’s world championships in Barcelona and now aims to become the first woman to win six on Sunday.
“It would mean so much to me. It is my favourite relay tomorrow night. We’ll have an incredible group of girls going so I’m really looking forward to it,” said the 18-year-old ahead of Sunday’s 4x100m individual medley and after securing her fifth gold in Saturday’s 200m backstroke.
Franklin’s five golds tie her with compatriot Tracy Caulkins (1978) and Australia’s Libby Trickett (2007) for the most titles at a single world championship meet.
If she wins a sixth, it will match Ian Thorpe of Australia’s tally of six world titles at Fukuoka in 2001, which has only been bettered by Michael Phelps’ seven gold at Melbourne in 2007.
Franklin, who set the world record in winning gold in the 200m backstroke final at the London Olympics, clocked 2min 04.76sec in a new championship record in Saturday’s final.
Australia’s Belinda Hocking was 1.90sec back in second place and Canada’s Hilary Caldwell 2.04 adrift in third.
Having won the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle gold, as well as victories with the USA in the 4×100 and 4x200m freestyle relays in Barcelona, Franklin admitted her schedule has taken its toll.
“It never gets easy, the competition here is the best in the world so you know every race will be tough,” she said.
Having finished fifth in the Olympic final, Hocking said she was delighted with silver.
“I think after 2011, I was really happy with the silver,” said the 22-year-old, who also won silver at the Shanghai championships two years ago.
“Last year, I went to London expecting a little too much out of myself.
“Since then I changed coaches, moved towns and away from my parents for the first time and it is a new adventure and that’s what swimming is to me now.
“It is about waking up and enjoying it every day that is how I got on the podium tonight.
“It’s great that now I know these girls well enough that in the marshaling room we talk to each other, we’re not just sitting around crapping ourselves.”