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Marchand wins third gold while Australia scoop more titles

French superstar Leon Marchand claimed his third gold of swimming’s world championships on Thursday, while Australia scooped up more titles on a dominating night in the pool.

Marchand continued his imperial procession through the competition in Fukuoka, winning the 200m individual medley to add to his 400m IM and 200m butterfly titles.

The 21-year-old is set to be one of the faces of next year’s Paris Olympics and said he believes he can keep improving before then.

“I think that if I can get off to a faster start, that’ll do it, because in general, breaststroke and freestyle are pretty good,” he said.

Australia continued their medal rush in the southern Japanese city with three more golds and another world record.

Kyle Chalmers won a men’s 100m freestyle sprint shoot-out that sent Romanian sensation David Popovici home empty-handed.

Australia’s women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team broke their own world record and Kaylee McKeown won the women’s 50m backstroke for her second gold of the competition.

Canadian teen Summer McIntosh also defended her title in the 200m butterfly.

Marchand romped home in the 200m IM in a time of 1min, 54.82sec, finishing ahead of British pair Duncan Scott on 1:55.95 and Tom Dean on 1:56.07.

It gave him an IM gold double, having broken Michael Phelps’s legendary world record in the 400 on the competition’s opening night.

Marchand made his latest win look effortless but he insisted it was “a painful race”.

“I worked very hard for it, so I’m just enjoying it right now,” he said.

Marchand is almost guaranteed to be named the competition’s men’s MVP, an honour which many had tipped Popovici to win.

Instead, the Romanian 18-year-old was left to pick up the pieces after finishing sixth in the 100m freestyle, two days after placing fourth in the 200.

Popovici came into the championships as the defending champion in both races, and the world record holder in the 100.

But he said he was “going to be just fine” and insisted that he could fix his problems.

“As soon I touched the wall in the 200, this thought flashed in my head, which was I need to train better,” he said.

“I need to train more, and most importantly I need to be more consistent — that’s the glue that holds it all together.”

World record

Chalmers came home in a time of 47.15sec to finish ahead of Jack Alexy of the United States in 47.31 and France’s Maxime Grousset in 47.42.

Chalmers, the 2016 Olympic champion, claimed his first individual world title and said it was “a moment that I had envisioned for quite some time”.

“The moment that I train for six days a week, 50 days of the year is that exact feeling that I’m feeling right now,” he said.

“Standing on top of the podium, singing my national anthem badly and having a gold medal around my neck.”

There was more success for Australia in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay, where the team of Ariarne Titmus, Mollie O’Callaghan, Shayna Jack and Briana Throssell set a new world record in 7min, 37.50sec.

The Australian team beat the previous record of 7:39.29 that they set themselves at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“We train together every day, and to come here and break a world record together is really special for us,” said Titmus.

McKeown completed a backstroke double in the 50m, finishing in 27.08sec to beat American Regan Smith on 27.11 and Britain’s Lauren Cox on 27.20.

McIntosh claimed her first title of the competition in the women’s 200m butterfly title.

The 16-year-old came home in 2min, 04.06sec to finish ahead of Australia’s Elizabeth Dekkers on 2:05.46 and American Regan Smith on 2:06.58.