BARCELONA, Spain —
“I just love swimming,” he said.
Lochte finished his big night in the relay, taking over with the Americans trailing both Russia and France after Conor Dwyer’s opening leg. Lochte took care of that, turning in the second-fastest 200 (1:44.98) of anyone in the field. Only Sun Yang of China, one of the world’s greatest freestylers, went faster — and he hadn’t already competed in two races.
“When you get together for a relay, you don’t care about the pain,” Lochte said.
Franklin also had a busy night, but the first race didn’t go as she hoped. The 18-year-old American finished fourth in the 100 free behind gold medalist Cate Campbell of Australia, ending a run of four straight victories in Barcelona.
“I’m a little bummed,” Franklin said.
She quickly shook off the defeat, however, coming back about 25 minutes later to easily post the top qualifying time in the semifinals of the 200 back, her favorite event. She’ll be a heavy favorite in that race Saturday night — she’s the Olympic champion and world-record holder — which leaves her still on course to at least match Tracy Caulkins of the U.S. and Libby Trickett of Australia as the only women to win five events at worlds.
Caulkins won her five at the 1978 meet in Berlin, while Trickett did it in her home championships at Melbourne in 2007.
Franklin will have one more event after the backstroke — Sunday’s 400 medley relay — so she’s got a shot at joining Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to win as many as six golds at either the worlds or Olympics.
Lochte got off to a slow start in Barcelona, looking sluggish while settling for silver as part of the 400 free relay and even worse in his first individual event — a fourth-place finish in the 200 free. But any thought he was in for a disappointing championships ended with a victory in the 200 individual medley on Thursday.