FINA World Championships: Best Individual American Performers of the Event
The 2013 FINA World Championships have come to a close. After 40 events, Team USA has further established its dominance in swimming and continued the development of some of its brightest stars.
The question is, which Americans put on the best individual performances of the event?
Per the official FINA website, the U.S. won a grand total of 34 medals at the 2013 World Championships. That includes 15 gold medals, 10 silver and an additional nine bronze.
While it may have been a team effort to get there, certain individuals stood out amongst the rest.
Certain stars achieved what was expected of them, dominating the events in which they're labeled as the stars. Others broke out in a major way, proving that their recent success was not a fluke and their dominance is legitimate.
So which Americans stole the show?
The legend of Missy Franklin continues to grow, as the the 18-year-old continues to build upon her breakout at the 2012 London Olympics. Not only did she flash world-class form, but she consistently reminded us of why she's inching closer towards the label of "best female swimmer in the world."
Is Missy Franklin the best female swimmer in the world?
A 2013 FINA World Championships-best six gold medals may end the inching and put her right on top.
Franklin won three individual gold medals and three in relay races, dominating in both the backstroke and freestyle. Not only does this add to her medal count after winning four Olympic gold medals, but it solidifies Franklin's status as elite.
Consider Franklin to be the star at the top of Mount Rushmore.
Franklin won gold in the 4x100-meter freestyle, 4x100-meter medley relay and 4x200-meter freestyle. Individually, she won the 100- and 200-meter backstroke races, also taking home the 200-meter freestyle gold.
At this point, we're left wondering what Franklin can't do.
The scariest aspect of Franklin's dominance is that, at 18, she has at least two more Olympic games before she peaks. After watching then-41-year-old Dara Torres win three silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it's safe to say that the sky is the limit.
Before we talk about Michael Phelps' record, let's just enjoy this form of dominance as it happens.
A case could be made that Katie Ledecky is already the world's premier long-distance swimmer. She began to put her name in the hat when she won the 800-meter freestyle race at the 2012 London Olympics.
In Barcelona, the 16-year-old decided to dominate the field with four gold medals.
Individually, Ledecky won gold in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle races. She also took part in the 4x200-meter relay, winning gold in that event, as well.
Did we mention that she set world records in the 800- and 1500-meter races?
The Americans have become the most dominant force in the swimming world, and Ledecky's arrival on the scene is nothing less than promising. She's already displaying the pace and stamina of a veteran, which is stunning due to her age.
At this rate, she may just be expected to decimate the field at Rio in 2016.
Ryan Lochte entered the 2013 FINA World Championships with extraordinary expectations. With Michael Phelps retiring, Lochte is now expected to help anchor American swimming on the men's side of things.
With Franklin and Ledecky rising for the women, that puts Lochte in an elevated position of pressure.
Lochte responded as well as you could ask of him, winning four total medals and three golds. The only race he medaled in yet failed to pick up a gold in was the 4x100-meter relay race (the U.S. finished second to France), which displays just how well he performed in individual races.
Besides, who really wants to complain about a silver?
Lochte won gold in the 200-meter individual medley and 200-meter backstroke, further establishing his dominance in those events. Having won Olympic silver twice in the former, seeing Lochte break through was inspiring.
Keep in mind, the 29-year-old has a closing window and needs to increase his medal tally as soon as possible.
Lochte did manage to win a gold medal in a relay race, securing the 4x200-meter freestyle with his teammates. Lochte and his teammates missed out on a medal entirely in the 4x100 medley relay when they were disqualified for Kevin Cordes leaving the blocks too early in the breastroke segment.
All in all, it's statistically proven that Lochte put on the most successful FINA World Championships performance of any man in action.
Only China's Sun Yang managed to match Lochte's gold medal count, also adding a bronze.
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