Ryan Cochrane had to claw his way to Canada's first podium finish in the pool at the 2013 world aquatics championships.

The Victoria native won his third straight medal in the men's 800-metre freestyle Wednesday, charging down American Connor Jaeger on the final 100 metres to win the bronze medal in seven minutes 43.70 seconds in Barcelona.

The 24-year-old won silver in the event at the 2011 worlds in Shanghai, and bronze in 2009 in Rome.

China's Sun Yang took the gold in 7:41.36. Cochrane, who came an agonizing fourth in the 400 freestyle Sunday, was edged by American Michael McBroom by 0.1 seconds for silver.

"The touches aren't my friend this meet," Cochrane said. "It was hard getting fourth place. It's a frustrating place to be but with a world championships anything can happen. There's so many great competitors that in this 800 I think anybody had a chance at the podium.

"To know I could claw my way back onto the podium is great and we have the 1,500 to look forward to after this."

Randy Bennett, head coach of the national team and Cochrane's coach at the Victoria Academy of Swimming, characterized the race as "interesting."

"Five guys in it all the way and it's not that normal in the distance freestyle," Bennett said. "It's usually a two- or three-horse race but it was interesting — he could have been fifth.

"It's great racing for him to get his hand on the wall in the third place position and be aware that he had to go in the last 100 as hard as he did, so we'll take the medal and run with it but you always want a little bit more."

The medal is Canada's fifth overall at the championships, and second in swimming.

Franklin takes gold

Also Wednesday, American Missy Franklin held off a late challenge from Federica Pelligrini to win the 200-metre freestyle.

The win came after Franklin pulled of the 50-metre backstroke, ending a possible bid for eight gold medals at a single major event.

She also has gold medals here from the 4x100 free relay and the 100 backstroke.

The 18-year-old entered eight events, giving her a chance to match Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win that many events at a major championship.

But, after a tough double on Tuesday and a lacklustre showing in the morning preliminaries, Franklin and her coach, Todd Schmitz, decided to scratch the 50 backstroke — a non-Olympic event that she swims mainly for fun, though she did take bronze at the 2011 worlds in Shanghai.

There was only a 20-minute break between the semifinals of the 50 back and the final of the 200 free, and the latter was much more important to Franklin. She just missed a medal in that event at the London Olympics, losing out for third by a hundredth of a second.

"We decided that maybe the risk kind of outdid the rewards," Franklin said. "So we decided not to do it. It was fun to swim it this morning but I'm really happy with the decision to scratch and just do this."

France's Camille Muffat went out hard, leading after the first lap and 0.75 under the world-record pace. But Franklin edged ahead at the midway point and held off hard-charging Federica Pelligrini of the Italy, the world-record holder, to win in 1 minute, 54.81 seconds.

Pelligrini claimed silver, 0.33 behind the winner, while Muffat settled for the bronze.

Midway through the swimming portion of the championships, Franklin still has four events to go. She'll be a big favourite in the 200 back, and she'll be on two more relay teams that have a good shot at gold. The 100 free presents her biggest challenge, though it would be foolish to put anything past Franklin.

She was fifth in that event at the Olympics, but has spent the past year working diligently to improve her freestyle stroke.

That was obvious in the 200 free.

"We're coming down the mountain now," Franklin said. "This is what we prepared for, this kind of event through eight days. I'm really, really happy with my swim there. You kind of use each swim to motivate you for the next swim."

With files from CBCSports.ca