By Iain Rogers
BARCELONA (Reuters) - American teenager Missy Franklin captured a record-equaling fifth gold medal at a single world championships when she won a second consecutive 200 meters backstroke title in Barcelona on Saturday.
The bubbly 18-year-old, who can claim the record for herself if favorites United States win Sunday's 4x100 medley relay, clocked a championship record time of two minutes 04.76 seconds, with Australia's Belinda Hocking taking silver in 2:06.66 and Hilary Caldwell of Canada bronze in 2:06.80.
Franklin already had golds this week in 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle and the 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle relays and she came fourth in Friday's 100 freestyle.
"Wow @franklinmissy you never stop amazing me," coach Todd Schmitz said on his Twitter feed. "Five golds and we are not done yet."
Her fifth triumph means she has matched a feat previously achieved only by American Tracy Caulkins in 1978 and Australian Libby Trickett in 2007.
"It's hard to comprehend but I'm so excited because 200 back is my favorite race so it was so fun to get out there," Franklin said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster TVE.
Asked what her limit might be, she added: "I don't know, I don't think I can choose.
"I'm so flattered I had so many opportunities for all these races and it's so exciting to be able to swim so many times here.
"It's an honor and a privilege and I enjoy every single time I get in the water."
Franklin set the world record to win 200 backstroke gold at the London Olympics last year and also claimed the world title in Shanghai two years ago.
"This is awesome, I'm exhausted," she told reporters.
"The 200 back is my favorite race but also the most painful. I enjoyed it but it hurts a lot.
"Tomorrow I have the morning off and get prepared for the relay tomorrow night. It's going to be so much fun and it's also my favorite relay."
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Alison Wildey)