If the FINA World Championships are any indication of how the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 might play out, U.S. swimmers should be very, very happy.
The weeklong competition in Gwangju, South Korea, concluded on Sunday with a final count of 27 swimming medals for the United States — 14 gold, eight silver and five bronze. It was far and away the most medals by a nation at the competition, with Australia finishing second with 19 medals and five gold and Russia coming in third with 16 medals and three gold.
U.S. swimmers also set a total of nine American and five world records over the course of the week.
Adding to the final tally for the U.S. on Sunday were Lilly King, who took gold in the women’s 50-meter breaststroke, Simone Manuel, who won the title in the women’s 50-meter freestyle, Jay Litherland, who took silver in the men’s 400-meter IM, the men’s 4x100-meter medley team, which won silver, and the women’s 4x100-meter medley team, which defended the U.S. title to close out the meet with one last gold medal.
Caeleb Dressel, who was part of the men’s relay team, became the first person ever to win eight medals at a single world championships, finishing with six gold and two silver medals. He was just shy of matching the record of seven gold medals, which he and Michael Phelps share.
Manuel also comes home with quite a medal haul, becoming the first woman to ever win seven medals at a single world championships.
Her day started with the 50-meter freestyle, in which she won silver at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, and it was every bit as fast as expected. Manuel finished in 24.05 seconds, just ahead of world record holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden with a time of 24.07 seconds and Australia’s Cate Campbell, who finished in 24.11. The gold not only added to Manuel’s win in the 100-meter freestyle earlier in the week but is also her first world title in the 50-meter freestyle.
With the gold in the women’s 4x100-meter medley, which set a new world record of 3:50.40 to close the meet, Manuel finished with four gold and three silver medals.
King was also part of the winning medley relay team and defended her title in the 50-meter breaststroke with a winning time of 29.84 seconds. Italy’s Benedetta Pilato was second in 30.00 seconds and Russia’s Yuliya Efimova took bronze in 30.15 seconds.
Litherland challenged Japan’s Daiya Seto in the 400-meter IM with a full-out charge on the freestyle leg, and although Seto held on for his third world title with a time of 4:08.95, Litherland’s 4:09.22 got him his first individual world championship medal of his career.
In addition to King and Manuel, the women’s medley relay team included Kelsi Dahlia and Regan Smith, who opened the relay with a 100-meter backstroke world record time of 57.57. The men’s medley relay team included Ryan Murphy, Andrew Wilson, Dressel and Nathan Adrian.