BUDAPEST • Katinka Hosszu said retaining her women's 200m individual medley title in front of her home crowd at the world aquatics championships on Monday was an "unforgettable experience".
She clocked 2min 07.00sec to win gold, with Japan's Yui Ohashi taking silver after finishing 0.91sec behind her and Madisyn Cox of the United States (2:09.71) earning bronze.
Each of Hosszu's strokes in the final 50m was met with a deafening roar from the Budapest crowd.
"It feels like my very first win," she said after her victory on home soil. "I have been training in this pool, trying to imagine the crowd and prepare for it, but I don't think you can ever be ready.
"It was great motivation and it was just crazy."
Fireworks were set off next to the podium as Hosszu collected the sixth world title of her career. The crowd sang the Hungarian national anthem as Hosszu struggled to keep her emotions in check.
GRATEFUL FOR THE SUPPORT
I have been training in this pool, trying to imagine the crowd and prepare for it, but I don't think you can ever be ready.
KATINKA HOSSZU, on the reaction from the home crowd during her win.
She said the win meant as much to her as capturing the 200m medley, 400m medley and 100m backstroke Olympic golds at the Rio de Janeiro Games last year.
"It's quite a difficult feeling, because I was dreaming of being Olympic champion," she said.
"But it was amazing to swim here in front of the Hungarian fans, so this worlds medal means a lot to me."
The 28-year-old is the first woman to win three gold medals in the event at the world championships, following her successes at Barcelona in 2013 and Kazan two years later.
She was well short of her world record of 2:06.12, set in Kazan, but is the favourite to retain her 400m medley world title on Sunday.
Controversial Yuliya Efimova came much closer to setting a world record in the women's 100m breaststroke on Monday.
The Russian clocked 1:04.36 in the semi-finals - just 0.01 short of Ruta Meilutyte's world mark set in Barcelona.
The 25-year-old wagged a finger in the air - signalling No. 1 - after winning her semi-final, which infuriated American rival Lily King.
"I always watch the heat before, I saw her little finger-wagging, which just motivated me more," said King, 20, with a grin.
King was 0.17 behind Efimova's time going into yesterday's final.
Efimova's finger-wagging had already sparked a war of words between the two rivals in Rio where King eventually beat Efimova to the gold medal.
"You wave your finger 'No. 1' and you've been caught drug cheating... I'm not a fan," fumed King last year.
Her comments came after Efimova served a 16-month doping ban that ran until February 2015.