Missy Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at swimming’s World Championships, yet it was fellow American Katie Ledecky who won the award for top female of the meet in Barcelona.
Franklin, 18, swam the first leg of the U.S. team’s victory in the women’s 400-meter medley yesterday, when she collected her third relay gold to go along with wins in the 200m freestyle and the 100m and 200m backstroke events.
Franklin, who won four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics in London, surpassed the previous women’s record of five golds at the World Championships set by Tracy Caulkins of the U.S. in 1978 and matched by Libby Trickett of Australia in 2007. Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Kristin Otto are the only other swimmers to win six or more gold medals at the World Championships or the Olympics, as Otto set the women’s Olympic record with six at the 1998 Seoul Games.
“I still can’t really believe that it happened,” Franklin was quoted as saying by USA Swimming. “Coming into this meet, I wanted to see where I was after London. I had some really great races that I’m really proud of, and there’s a bunch where I know there’s a lot of room to improve on.”
Ledecky, 16, received the meet’s top female swimmer award after winning four gold medals -- including three in individual events -- and setting world records in the 800m and 1,500m freestyle. She also set an American record in the 400m free.
The U.S. led the 180 competing nations at the World Championships with 34 medals, including 15 gold. China was second with 26 medals and 14 golds.
The U.S. missed a chance to win another gold medal on the final day of the meet yesterday, when its relay team finished about 1 1/2 seconds ahead of France but was disqualified for a false start in the exchange from backstroke to breaststroke.