Simone Manuel wasn’t swimming up to her standards, and she felt her relay anchor leg that resulted in a silver medal for the U.S. proved it.
Then she remembered it’s always about bouncing back.
Manuel did just that in the 100 freestyle, winning her second straight title at the world championships on Friday.
Relegated to Lane 1 with the slowest qualifying time, the American led all the way and touched first in 52.04 seconds, beating Cate Campbell of Australia by 0.39 seconds.
“Not everybody has a perfect swim every time so I just needed to regroup and put on a good face,” Manuel said. “I’m a veteran on the team, so I have to be able to show a little bit of poise in these hard moments.”
Manuel was unable to hold off Campbell on the anchor leg of the 4×100 free relay earlier in the meet, with Australia claiming gold and the U.S. silver.
“I did take that relay really hard because I didn’t feel like I did as best as I possibly could,” Manuel said.
She made up for it in the 100 free.
Manuel was the only woman under 25 seconds on the opening lap. She knocked 1.27 seconds off her time from the morning semifinals that landed her in the far outside lane.
Manuel became the second woman to win multiple titles in the 100 free, joining Kornelia Ender of the former East Germany, who won in 1973 and ’75.
Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, the world-record holder, took bronze.
In 2016, Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming gold at the Olympics when she tied Canada’s Penny Oleksiak for gold in Rio de Janeiro.
Yuliya Efimova of Russia claimed a record third title in the 200 breaststroke. She won in 2:20.17 seconds without American rival Lilly King, who was disqualified in the preliminary heats because she didn’t touch both hands on the wall at the same time in a turn.
It was Efimova’s 14th individual world medal, tying her with Katinka Hosszu of Hungary and Sjostrom for most among women.
Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa earned silver, becoming her country’s first woman to win a swimming medal at worlds. Sydney Pickrem of Canada took bronze.
Two more world records fell in semifinals at the hands of Americans.
Caeleb Dressel broke Michael Phelps’ record in the 100 butterfly and Regan Smith lowered the mark in the 200 backstroke.
Dressel won his heat in 49.50 seconds — 0.32 seconds better than Phelps’ mark set at the 2009 world meet in Rome at the height of the high-tech suit era.
Dressel was out in 22.83 seconds — 0.53 seconds under Phelps’ pace — and came home in 26.67 to lead eight men into Saturday’s final.
He was a whopping 1.44 seconds ahead of Andrei Minakov of Russia, the second-quickest qualifier.
Smith, who is 17, won her semifinal heat in 2:3.35. That erased the old mark of 2:04.06 set by Missy Franklin at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I’m in shock,” Smith said. “I really don’t believe it.”
She lowered her own junior world record in the morning preliminaries, finishing in 2:06.01.
Smith goes into Saturday’s final 3.22 seconds ahead of Kylie Masse of Canada, the second-fastest qualifier.
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