American swimmers claim redemption at worlds: three more golds
Budapest, Hungary — On a night of redemption for American swimmers, Lilly King, Ryan Murphy and the men’s 4x200 freestyle team claimed three more gold medals for the United States at the world swimming championships on Thursday.
King atoned for missing out on the podium in the 100 breaststroke by winning the 200 breaststroke final for the first time.
“Any time I have a bad swim, I feel like I got a lot of haters out there. And just to be able to prove them wrong, gets me going,” King said.
The 25-year-old finished strongly to clock 2:22.41 and beat Australia’s Jenna Strauch by 0.63. Kate Douglass claimed the bronze for the U.S.
King previously won golds in the 50 and 100 breaststroke at the 2017 and 2019 worlds.
“It’s really nice to be able to kind of complete the set and I guess I’m a decent swimmer now,” King joked of her 10 medals — nine of them gold — from a worlds. Only Caeleb Dressel, with 15, has claimed more since 2017.
Murphy got the Americans’ second gold of the evening in the men’s 200 backstroke, clocking 1:54.52 to beat Britain’s Luke Greenbank by 0.64 seconds and U.S. teammate Shaine Casas by 0.83.
At 26, Murphy is another relative veteran on the American team. It was his first gold from an individual event at a words, adding to his four from relays.
“I think back to 2014, I was the youngest guy in the team, and I had some really good people that were leading us back then. And so it’s cool to think that I’m in a position to mentor the young guys now,” Murphy said. “We’ve got an incredible legacy at USA Swimming. It’s cool to try to pay that forward.”
The Americans had some making up to do in the men’s 4x200 freestyle after failing to finish among the medals for the first time ever in that race at the Olympics last year.
Drew Kibler, Carson Foster, Trenton Julian and Kieran Smith duly obliged by clocking 7:00.24 in Thursday's final to finish more than three seconds ahead of the Australian and British teams.
“Last year — I know Drew and Kieran were part of it — it kinda left a bad taste in everyone's mouth so to come back this year and win it feels right,” Foster said.
The Brazilian team looked like claiming a place finish but lacked the finishing power of its rivals, with Mack Horton clinching silver for the Australians and Tom Dean the bronze for Britain — the country’s 100th medal at a worlds.
“That’s an amazing achievement,” Dean’s teammate James Guy said. “And that’s really great that we delivered it, I’m so happy about this.”
Australians claimed the other two golds on offer at the Duna Arena in Budapest on Thursday.
The 18-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan took the first, clocking 52.67 seconds in the women’s 100 freestyle to beat world record holder Sarah Sjöström by 0.13 seconds.
It is O’Callaghan’s first world title, while Sjöström won her 17th individual medal at a worlds, second only to Michael Phelps with 20. It was Sjöström’s record fifth medal in the 100 at a worlds, but the Swedish swimmer has never won gold.
“Still, I’m so, so happy with (the medal) like never before because I’m competing against such young ladies around me so here in the final I’m the most experienced one," the 28-year-old said. “That was a great competition.”
American Torri Huske, 19, claimed the bronze to become the first swimmer to win four medals in the Hungarian capital this week.
Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, the 2016 Olympic champion when she was 16, was fourth.
Defending champion Simone Manuel was among several notable absences from the race including Siobhán Haughey, Shayna Jack, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell.
World record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook won the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:07.07 — 1.31 ahead of Japan’s Yu Hanaguruma and Sweden’s Erik Persson, who tied for second. Persson is the first Swedish man to win a medal at the worlds since 2007.
“The plan? To be honest, I didn’t really have one, I just tried to swim as fast as I could,” Persson said.
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