"I knew that world record was going down tonight, but 6 seconds!" Franklin said. "All of us were totally in awe."
Ledecky looks even stronger than she did last year while winning Olympic gold in the 800 free, a stunning breakthrough for someone barely known on the international stage.
Naturally, after that performance, she arrived in Barcelona dealing with the weight of hefty expectations. Plus, she decided to take on an exhausting program that also includes the 800 free.
"I knew we were going pretty fast, and I figured that whoever was going to come out on top was probably going to get the world record," said Ledecky, who's going into her junior year of high school. "So I just had to be careful not to push it too early or push it too late and just touch the wall first."
Franklin breezed to victory in the 100 back in 58.42 seconds. After capturing four golds and a bronze at the London Olympics, the recent high school graduate is trying to join Phelps as the only swimmers to win eight events at a major championship. She is now 2 for 2 at the Palau Sant Jordi, adding to her gold in the 4x100 free relay.
Australia's Emily Seebohm won silver and Japan's Aya Terakawa bronze.
After the medal ceremony, Franklin hustled off to get ready for the 200 free semifinals. She barely qualified for the final of that event in London and was edged out for a bronze medal by one-hundredth of a second.
Franklin has spent much of the past year working to improve her freestyle, and the results showed. Franklin easily qualified for the final in 1:56.05, trailing only world-record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy.
"Hopefully, I will keep the momentum going," Franklin said. "Hopefully, Team USA will, too."
Agnel pushed the pace right from the start and never let up. He touched in 1:44.20, a full body length ahead of the field, setting off another wild celebration from the large French contingent in the crowd.
Instead of Lochte, the American winning a medal was Dwyer, a friend and former training partner of Phelps. Danila Izotov of Russia took bronze. Lochte missed a spot on the podium by 0.05.
Agnel is now a training partner of Dwyer's, having moved recently to the North Baltimore Aquatic Club to work with Bowman, who was Phelps' longtime coach.
"I am so surprised," said Agnel, the reigning Olympic champion. "I did not expect such a result."
Grevers showed he's still the man to beat in the 100 back after winning gold at London. The American was second at the turn but overtook France's Jeremy Stravius to win in 52.93. Plummer also got past Stravius for the silver, while the Frenchman settled for bronze.
Meilutyte just missed the world record she set the previous night in the semifinals of the 100 breast, winning in 1:04.42. Russia's Yuliya Efimova was next, while Hardy — the former world-record holder — pulled out a bronze.
"Maybe the excitement and wanting to win altered my stroke," Meilutyte said. "I was dying toward the end of it. There's still things to improve, which is great."
It certainly would've been hard for the American team to improve on this night.