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Ryan Murphy, Blake Pieroni, Olivia Smoliga All Claim Titles On Day 2 Of Short Course Swimming Worlds

By Karen Price | Dec. 12, 2018, 10:26 a.m. (ET)

Ryan Murphy looks on after competing in the men's 100-meter backstroke at FINA World Swimming Championships on Dec. 12, 2018 in Hangzhou, China.


Day two of the 2018 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Hangzhou, China, saw some familiar rivalries take shape and more American records fall.

Three Americans won individual world titles, while two U.S. relay teams won non-Olympic events in world record time. All three U.S. individual winners are also 2016 Olympic gold medalists.

Ryan Murphy captured the gold in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, but it was a close race for the Olympic champion against China’s Xu Jiayu, who last month set a world record at the FINA World Cup in Tokyo and also beat Murphy at the 2017 world championships. 

Murphy, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, hit the wall in 49.23 while Jaiyu was right behind him in 49.26, both just off Jaiyu’s record of 48.88. Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov was third in 49.40.

Blake Pieroni delivered a gold-medal-winning performance in the men’s 200 freestyle with a time of 1:41.49. Pieroni was also a member of the 4x100 freestyle relay that set a new world record on Tuesday. He led from the start of the 200 freestyle with Danas Rapsys of Lithuania coming in second in 1:41.78 and Australia’s Alexander Graham getting the bronze in 1:42.28.

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Olivia Smoliga, who won gold in the women’s 4x100 freestyle relay on Tuesday and also in the 4x50 freestyle relay earlier Wednesday, then added her own individual gold medal in the women’s 100 backstroke. After setting a new American record in the semifinals, the Olympic 4x100 medley champion held off Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu to win in 56.19. Hosszu came in second in 56.26. Great Britain’s Georgia Davies and Australia’s Minna Atherton tied for third in 56.74. 

Meanwhile, Kelsi Dahlia, another 2016 Olympic gold medalist, snagged her first individual medal of the meet and set a new American record by winning silver in the women’s 200 butterfly. It was battle between Dahlia, who’d just won gold with the women’s 4x50 medley relay, and Hosszu, with Hosszu pulling away at the end to win in 2:01.60. Dahlia touched in 2:01.73, which broke her own American record set in 2014, and Japan’s Suzuka Hasegawa was third in 2:04.04. 

The U.S. team of Smoliga, Katie Meili, Dahlia and Mallory Comerford set a new world record, winning the women’s 4x50 medley in 1:42.38. Smoliga’s backstroke leg set a new American record (25.97). 

In the day’s other relay, Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, Comerford and Dahlia teamed up to win the mixed 4x50 freestyle event and set a new world record of 1:27.89, holding off the Netherlands and Russia. They held off second-place China by nearly two seconds.

The competition continues through Sunday.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Ryan Murphy

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Blake Pieroni

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Olivia Smoliga