Missy Franklin ended the world swimming championships with a history-making title in Barcelona on Sunday.
Franklin led off the U.S. women’s 4×100-meter medley relay in her signature stroke, the backstroke, giving the Americans a lead they would only build on. Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer and Megan Romano took their turns on the way to a 3-minute, 53.23-second finish, two seconds better than silver medalist Australia.
“I’m not really sure where that came from, but I’m really happy with that,” Franklin said, according to The Associated Press. “I knew I had to get out there for my team. We had really tough competition in that race, so we were sitting there in the ready room and we said, ‘No matter what happens, we’re just going to do our best and have fun and we can’t let each other down if we do that.’ So I just went out there and it hurt really, really bad, but now we’re done and we’re all super excited.”
It marked Franklin’s sixth gold of the meet, breaking her tie with East German Kristin Otto and Americans Shirley Babashoff and Tracy Caulkins for most golds won by a woman at a single world championships. Otto holds the record for most golds won at an Olympics, six at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Franklin, 18, also stands alone with the most career world championships gold medals by a woman (nine). She keeps getting better. She won three golds at her first world championships in 2011 and four golds at the 2012 Olympics.