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Carla Geurts and Kirsten Vlieghuis, both NED, were in the lead at the 50. At the 100 Geurts was still ahead with Michelle Smith, IRL, moving up on the leaders.

Dagmar Hase, GER, began her drive moving to third. Smith moved ahead after the 200, and had a body length lead at the 250. It was a battle for second among Geurts, Vleighuis, Hase and Claudia Poll, CRC. Smith had a lead of two body lengths at 300. Hase was second at 350.

Smith won in 4:07.35, Hase was second in 4:08.30 and Vlieghuis was third in 4:08.70. Kerstin Kielgass, GER, closed in at the finish just short of the podium.

Michelle Smith, IRL, basking in her second gold medal, now become the focus of controversy. The Americans were upset that she was allowed to enter the event, which then cost Janet Evans a spot in the final. Then there was the issue of her rapid improvement.

Speedo's Aquablade worn by Michelle Smith
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

"Ireland does not have a great tradition in swimming. We don't have great facilities-we don't have any 50 m pools. To make it this far I've had to overcome some obstacles. I had to move to Holland. I moved away from my family. I had to make some sacrifices."

Dagmar Hase, GER, who won this race in 1992 added silver here. "In the end I am happy with the results. When I think about the 200 yesterday (she won the bronze), I feel tired. Michelle Smith had a great swim and deserved the gold medal."

When asked about doping control in Germany, "It's very tight and tough. I think I am tested at least once a month no matter where I go the drug testers go with us on the plane."

On Michelle Smith's performance here, "She was a double gold medallist at last year's European Championships, but I was still surprised."

Kirsten Vlieghuid, NED, bronze medal winner said, "It's great, I am so excited. It's a national record which stood since 1977, the year after I was born.

Asked about doping control, "I've been tested three times in the last three or four months."

How the race was split:
Smith 1:00.75 2:03.55 3:04.65 4:07.25
Hase 1:00.96 2:04.00 3:07.08 4:08.30
Vlieghuis 1:00.50 2:04.09 3:07.20 4:08.70
Kielgass 1:01.95 2:05.63 3:08.39 4:09.83

In the prelims three of the top seeds failed to make the finals but Michelle Smith, IRL winner of the 400 I.M. who wasn't even entered qualified second.

The controversial decision to allow Smith to swim was done by the IOC overturning a decision by FINA to not allow her to swim, as Smith's qualifying swim was done on July 7 after the entry deadline of July 5.

World record holder Janet Evans, USA (4:10.75 seed) Yan Chen, CHN (4:11.33 seed), and Hayley Lewis, AUS (4:11.26 seed) swam in the B Final.

Richard Quick, the head women's coach for the United States explained, "Evans miscalculated her race this morning. Usually when you are second in a preliminary heat you have a very good chance of making finals. She missed the final by 2/10 ths. She swam a little bit too easy going out and got into a bit of an easy routine instead of pressing as hard as she should have. Whatever she did today Janet Evans is a great champion and that can never be taken away. I am disappointed for her, not in her however. What she had done for swimming and United States Swimming can never be denied. She still will do great things with this team."

On allowing Michelle Smith to swim in the 400 free, "Our delegation believed it was not the right thing to do, so did FINA. We all need to operate under the same rule. Throughout history there have been a lot of times when the best swimmers haven't been allowed in an event because they didn't qualify according to the rules."


Alexander Popov had a slight edge after the start. Gary Hall had the lead at the 50.

Hall was ahead until the 75 with longer strokes. Popov increased his turn-over and touched 7/100 ths ahead of Hall.

It was hardest race of Popov's career. He's now undefeated in major championships since 1991.

Sprint tsar Alexander Popov successfully defends 100 title, a feat done 70 years ago by Johnny Weissmuller in 1924-28
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Hall was impressive, and seriously challenged for the gold until the last stroke. Popov mastered the crucial phases of the race. He won the start. Hall's feet touched first at the turn, but Popov emerged 30 cm ahead. Popov was able to increase his stroke rate at the finish. It was a perfect demonstration of why he is the all-time best in the event.

"It was a pretty tough race-it wasn't easy. In big meets you have respect for everyone. I respect Gary. The strategy is different in each race. It's up to me to decide what the strategy will be. But my coach Gennadi Touretski is the most important reason for my success."

"It's pretty hard to win a gold, and harder to repeat it. If you work hard success always comes to you."

For Gary Hall the fast time was a surprise. "When a race comes down to less than a tenth of a second anything goes."

"I am looking forward to the 50 free, which after improving half a second in the 100, will be much faster." Not known for work habits Hall explained, "Some of the greatest workout swimmers fold under the pressure of a big meet. It's what's going on upstairs (in your head) that counts. It takes a lot of determination. For me swimming is an expression."

Gustavo Borges, BRA, was third with 49.02, a new national record. " It was very fast this morning. Gary Hall set the pace with his 48.90. I was not planning to go that fast in the morning. It took 49.7 to get in the final. My swim tonight was very good, with a good first half. I'm pleased with it."

It was the fastest field ever to reach finals.

Never has it taken a sub 50 second swim to be a finalist at a major competition. With nine swimmers under 50 seconds, Lars Frolander, SWE, with 49.91 wound up in the B Final. Five of the eight finalist bettered their national records.

All the favourites made the A final except Jon Olsen, USA (49.44 seed) who only managed a 50.17, and was touched out by Stephen Clarke, CAN with 50.14, another national record.


Beth Botsford and Whitney Hedgepeth, both USA, battled for the lead right from the start. Botsford had the lead throughout, turning first at the 50. "It was a great feeling-can't quite describe it. It's wonderful. We planned a one-two finish."

"Having my coach Murray Stephens is a big advantage. If he wasn't here I wouldn't be this together."

If experience counts for something, take note that Botsford is 15 and Hedgepeth is 25.

Hedgepeth quit her job teaching elementary school to return to competition. "It was the icing on the cake to a long career. I am not sure if I'll continue. I have to think about that. Being a teacher has made me more coachable. I don't complain as much and I try to keep my mouth shut a lot of the time. I love my school kids but they were difficult." "The older I've gotten the more nervous I've gotten and my goal is not to throw-up or pass out when they call my name." Marianne Kriel, RSA, came on strong at the 75 and took the bronze. Her time of 1:02.12 was a new national record.

"Penny's win psyched me up, and this just shows South Africans can get there."

Most top seeds reached the finals. World record holder Cihon He, CHN (1:02.90 seed) swam 1:05.87.

Russia's Nina Zhivanevskaya, RUS (third seed 1:01.94) finished ninth, another casualty of note.


Denis Pankratov, URS, was first at the 50. Scott Miller, AUS, half a body length behind at the 100, held on to second to the 150. Pankratov maintained the lead throughout the race.

At the push for the final wall Tom Malchow, USA, and Scott Goodman, AUS, moved ahead with Franck Esposito, FRA, close behind.

On the final length the field began to close in. Malchow took the silver and Scott Goodman, the bronze.

First medal of games for Denis Pankratov and second of the night for Russia
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Pankratov's win was the second Russian gold of the evening. "I think it raised my confidence level. I didn't expect the times to be faster at night. Winning is more important than a world record. For four years I've been trying to prove myself and I'm glad today was the day."

How the race was split: 
Pankratov 25.71 55.69 1:26.34 1:56.51
Malchow 27.33 57.12 1:26.94 1:57.44
Goodman 27.09 57.00 1:27.21 1:57.48
Esposito 26.47 56.59 1:27.52 1:58.10

It took a sub 1:59 swim to reach finals, the fastest field in swimming history.

The only major casualty was Ray Carey, USA (1:57.66 seed), who finished 21st. Silver medallist from Barcelona, Danyon Loader, NZL, finished 19 th.


China had the early lead, with Jingyi Le. On the second 100, the USA moved into the lead with Amy van Dyken, who split 53.91, the fastest at these Games. China was a body length behind at the 200, but closed the gap on the third length. Netherlands was third.

U.S. women win gold and set a new Olympic record
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Anchored by Jenny Thompson the USA won with a body length in a new Olympic record of 3:39.29. China was second with 3:40.48 and Germany with 3:41.48 moved into third on the strength of van Almsick's closing leg. The Netherlands missed the medals in fourth.

1) 3:39.29 United States,USA 	     Split 	   Total 
Angel Martino 				55.34 		55.34
Amy van Dyken 				53.91 		1:49.25 
Catherine Fox 				55.93 		2:45.18 
Jenny Thompson 				54.11 		3:39.29 
2) 3:40.48 China,CHN Jingyi Le 54.79 54.79 Na Chao 55.40 1:50.19 Yun Nian 55.42 2:45.61 Ying Shan 54.87 3:40.48
3) 3:41.48 Germany,GER Sandra Volker 55.70 55.70 Simone Osygus 56.05 1:51.75 Antje Buschschulte 55.20 2:46.95 Franzi van Almsick 54.53 3:41.48
4) 3:42.40 Netherlands,NED Marianne Muis 55.73 55.73 Minouche Smit 56.15 1:51.88 Wilma vanHofwegen 55.53 2:47.41 Karin Brienesse 54.99 3:42.40

There were no suprises as all the top countries qualified for the final.

The Canadian team posted a national record of 3:45.66, bettering their old mark of 3:45.89 from 1994. Shannon Shakespeare lead off with 56.05, another Canadian record.

MEDAL TOTALS after day 3

Country		Gold	Silver	Bronze	Total

United States	4	7	1	12
Ireland		2			2
Russia		2			2
China		1	1		2
South Africa	1		1	2
Belgium		1			1
New Zealand	1			1
Costa Rica	1			1

Germany			3	4	7
Brazil			1	1	2
Sweden			1		1
Australia			3	3
Hungary				1	1
Canada				1	1
Netherlands			1	1

Total		13	13	13	39

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