I think it’s fair to say that United States swimmer Missy Franklin knows how to rise to the occasion in big moments. The 18-year-old dominated the 2013 World Aquatics Championships and walked away with a record six gold medals. She’ll now fly home from Spain (which hosted the world championships) and head off to college at Cal. That’s quite a final summer after high school.
Franklin won her sixth gold Sunday night as the leadoff leg for the Americans in the 400-meter medley relay. She gave the U.S. a lead with her backstroke, then teammates Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer and Megan Romano wrapped things up. The U.S. won by nearly two seconds.
Franklin also won gold in the 200-meter freestyle, the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, then the 400- and 800-meter freestyle relays. All told she left with three individual and three relay golds.
The previous female record for golds at a world championships was five, shared by both Tracy Caulkins (in 1978) and Libby Trickett (2007).
Franklin also became just the fifth swimmer to capture six or more golds at either the worlds or an Olympics. Michael Phelps won six golds at the 2004 Athens Olympics, seven at the 2007 worlds and a record eight at the Beijing Olympics, passing Mark Spitz’s record of seven from the 1972 Munich Olympics. Kristin Otto of East Germany won six at the 1988 Seoul Olympics but those wins have since been largely discredited as a result of her country’s rampant doping during that time. Australia’s Ian Thorpe also won six golds at the 2001 worlds.
That’s quite an elite group for Franklin to be mentioned with, especially at just 18 years old. We firmly believe her best is still in front of her.