FUKUOKA, Japan — John Mason, the announcer at the swimming world championships, stuck a nickname on Mollie O’Callaghan after the 19-year-old Australian added the 100-meter freestyle title to her gold in the 200 two days earlier.
“The unstoppable Mollie O'Callaghan,” Mason called her.
She’s the first women to win both the 100 and 200 free at a world championships, and she set a world record in the 200 by taking down the oldest women’s mark on the books from the fast-suit era in 2009.
“It’s so weird. I’m not going to lie,” O’Callaghan said. “It’s such a weird feeling. I didn’t even know that no woman had done that — and to be the first is just incredible.”
O’Callaghan won in 52.16 seconds, with silver for Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong in 52.49 and bronze to Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands in 52.71.
“Going in to previous meets I was just so nervous all the time and worrying,” O’Callaghan said. “And this is the first time I actually felt quite calm and just enjoying every little bit.”
Through six of eight days, Australia leads with 10 gold medals, followed by China with five and the United States and France with three. The Americans lead the overall medals table with 25, ahead of Australia with 16 and China with 10.
Not be outdone by O'Callaghan, Qin Haiyang of China set a world record in the men's 200 breaststroke in 2:05.48. He also won the 50 — which is not an Olympic event — and the 100.
Zac Stubblety-Cook of Australia, the previous world-record holder and the Olympic champion in the event, took silver in 2:06.40, and Matt Fallon of the United States got bronze in 2:07.74.
Qin was shocked by the record, but not about winning three times.
“Before Fukuoka, the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke gold medals were my goal,” he said. “So I achieved them. But the world record for the 200, that was a surprise to me.”
Hubert Kos of Hungary surged past American rival Ryan Murphy in the final 35 meters to take gold in the men’s 200 backstroke in 1:54.14. Murphy took silver in 1:54.83 and Roman Mityukovf got bronze in 1:55.34.
Murphy won both backstroke races at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, and was the silver medalist in the 200 in Tokyo.
Kos, the son of an American father and Hungarian mother, began training about seven months ago at Arizona State University under Bob Bowman — Michael Phelps' long-time coach.
Bowman is the coach of the American team at the worlds.
“A year ago I was only swimming the 200 IM in the world championships,” Kos said. “I never thought I'd be swimming backstroke, and here I am a world champion.
“I think it’s just the Bob Bowman effect,” he added. "That’s a simple as it is. We have a really good training group and Bob knows a thing or two about swimming.”
Bowman is also training Leon Marchand at Arizona State. The Frenchman has won three gold medals at and figures to be the face of next year's Paris Olympics.
Kos said he went to Arizona to work on his IM, but Bowman make the switch. He called Bowman's touch partly “magic.”
“The other part is he's just been there for so long and done everything with Michael and now he's doing the same stuff with Leon (Marchand)," Kos said.
Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa won gold in the women’s 200 breaststroke in 2:20.80, becoming the first female world champion from her country. Kate Douglass of the United States took silver in 2:21.23 and Tes Schouten of the Netherlands got bronze in 2:21.63.
Schoenmaker was also the Tokyo Olympic champion in the 200, and took silver in the 100.
Britain won the men’s 4x200 freestyle relay in 6:59.08, adding the world title to its Tokyo Olympic gold medal. The United States picked up silver in 7:00.02, and Australia took bronze in 7:02.13.
The top three relay teams qualified automatically for the Paris Olympics.