BARCELONA, Spain — Missy Franklin got the Americans rolling. Then Katie Ledecky really fired ’em up.
By the end of the night, the U.S. team was awash in medals at the world swimming championships.
Franklin and Ledecky each won her second gold medal of the meet, Matt Grevers led a 1-2 American finish in the backstroke, and there was plenty of reason to celebrate for the red, white and blue on Tuesday.
“We’ve had an absolutely incredible evening,” Franklin said. “I’m so proud of all my teammates.”
In all, the Americans claimed three golds, two silvers and a bronze — a strong meet for most nations, certainly quite a haul in a mere two hours.
“A big night for us,” said Bob Bowman, head coach of the U.S. men’s team.
Everyone was raving about Ledecky, only 16 but already well on her way to becoming one of the country’s great distance swimmers. She obliterated the world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle, which may be a non-Olympic event for the women but did nothing to diminish the magnitude of her accomplishment.
After going stroke for stroke with Denmark’s Lotte Friis most of the race, with both well under world-record pace, Ledecky really turned it on over the final 200 and beat the mark by more than 6 seconds. Friis also went under the old record, and all it got her was silver.
“It was motivating watching Katie destroy the world record from the ready room,” Grevers said. “That really got us psyched.”
Franklin cruised through a demanding double, easily winning the 100 backstroke before returning about an hour later to post the second-fastest time in the semifinals of the 200 free.
“It’s tough, but it’s fun,” the 18-year-old said. “I’m super happy with my 100 back. It really got me pumped up for the 200 free.”