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Franklin powers to third swimming world title

US swimmer Missy Franklin celebrates after winning the final of the women's 200-metre freestyle event, July 31, 2013
US swimmer Missy Franklin celebrates after winning the final of the women's 200-metre freestyle swimming event in the FINA World Championships at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona on July 31, 2013.

Quadruple Olympic champion Missy Franklin of the USA powered to her third gold at swimming's world championships with victory in the women's 200m freestyle final on Wednesday.

Franklin, 18, claimed her third title in Barcelona when she touched the wall in a personal best of 1min 54.81secs with Italy's Federica Pellegrini taking silver at 0.33sec back and France's Camille Muffat claiming bronze 0.91sec adrift.

Having dominated the first three lengths to build a clear gap going into the final turn, Franklin held on with both Pellegrini and Muffat desperately attacking her lead.

"I'm extremely happy. That was my first PB of the meet and my first time under 1min 55 so I'm excited," said Franklin.

Franklin, a backstroke specialist, said she was motivated in the 200m freestyle after finishing fourth in the London final.

"That was a huge motivating factor, it was really rough not making the podium, but I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that swim" said the teenager.

"I've done a lot of pace work to get quicker over short distances and I also focused really hard just on my race and didn't get too focused on other swimmers around me."

Having withdrawn from the 50m backstroke semi-finals earlier in the evening to concentrate on the freestyle final, Franklin turned on the power and is in with a chance of seven gold medals in Barcelona.

"We thought we'd scratched my backstroke semi-final, because the way it was lining up, it was only 20 minutes before my final tonight," explained Franklin.

"The (50m backstroke) final would be right before my relay (on Thursday), so we thought the risk outweighed the rewards."

After winning Sunday's 4x100m freestyle relay, then taking Tuesday's 100m backstroke final, Franklin still has the medley and 4x200m relays, plus the 200m backstroke and 100m freestyle, to come.

"I'm just taking it one session at a time," said Franklin, who races next in Thursday morning's 100m freestyle heats.

"I have the 100m free heats next and that is definitely going to be one of my toughest events, for sure."

Pellegrini said she was pleased to take silver having only recently decided to enter the 200m freestyle after concentrating on her backstroke.

"I am very happy to get back into the top three after a few years," said the 24-year-old, who won the 2011 world title in Shanghai.

"It's true that I only practised backstroke for most of the year, so this result is completely unexpected."

Muffat, who won 400m gold and 200m silver in the freestyle events at the London Olympics, was disappointed with bronze.

"It's bitter sweet for me," said Muffat, the Olympic silver medallist in this event.

"Sure it is good to get a medal, but I have had better medals than this one. Hopefully I can go better in (Thursday's) 4x200m relay."

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