On the final night, the men's 50 freestyle opened the show. Mark Foster (GBR), the top qualifier in the heats (21.95), had the edge on the start and got to the 25 m mark first, but on the second length, a confident Francisco Sanchez (VEN) powered to the finish with a 23/100 of a second margin of victory, about an arm's length. It was a large distance considering the high quality of the finalists.
Sanchez defended his 1995 title by tying his own championship record of 21.80. Foster's time was 22.03, and Ricardo Busquets (PUR) was third with 22.17.
"I did it again," said a delighted Sanchez. "I had a bad finish this morning so I knew I could go faster."
Second-place finisher Foster said, "I am a bit disappointed as I tried very hard. I started a new training programme three months ago. It's going to take some time to adjust to it."
Puerto Rico's pride Busquets said, "I thought I had a great performance. Unfortunatly not enough."
The women's 200 individual medley gave the blue and yellow painted fans a lot to cheer about. After a disappointing finish in the 100 butterfly, Louise Karlsson (SWE) had something to prove. She led from start to finish, holding off a powerful surge at the finish by Martina Moravcova (SVK), who gained almost a body length on the freestyle leg to miss the gold by 2/100 of a second.
Karlsson's time was 2:11.19, a new national record. Moravcova was second with 2:11.21. England's Sue Rolph was third with 2:12.39.
"I am happy and extremely tired," Karlsson said. "I got off to a very good start and everything worked out well."
Silver medallist Moravcova said, "I thought I was capable of winning. I am happy with my second place."
Rolph, who posted the season's fastest time, didn't hide her disappointment. "What can I say? I am pretty upset. It hurt a lot this morning. And tonight it didn't hurt enough. I can't really say anything polite." Her time of 2:12.39 was off the 2:10.60 she did in December.
In the men's 200 individual medley, the race went to defending champion Matthew Dunn (AUS), whose superior second half was just too much. Dunn is such a good freestyler that he's a member of Australia's 4x200 world record freestyle relay team. He was comfortably second at the 100 and 150 as Ron Karnaugh (USA) had the lead for the first 100, and Christian Keller (GER) a slight lead at the 150. Dunn then moved ahead in the freestyle, touching almost a second ahead of Keller.
The top three times: Dunn 1:57.46, Keller 1:58.35, and Karnaugh 1:59.12.
"It has been fantastic in Gšteborg!" Dunn said. "I started the meet great and finished it great. I started to get a cold last night and am just wrapped. I had nothing all day, so this is just such a relief. It would have been easier yesterday."
Silver medallist Keller won this event in 1993." It was a hard race. I tried to to get into the lead. Eventually I paid the price and my legs got too heavy."
Karnaugh, the veteran in the field at age 30, said, "I am happy to get a medal for the USA. I was hoping for around a 1:58."
Misty Hyman (USA) led the women's 200 backstroke for seven lengths with Yan Chen (CHN) closing the gap after the 150 and surging to the lead in the final strokes.
"I am extremely tired," Chen said. "I was chasing after Hyman on the last 50. What a tough race."
After missing another chance at a gold, Hyman was gracious, "I am really happy with my time."
She added, "The atmosphere here is amazing! The crowds, the way they have set it up, it is so much fun. We don't have meets like this in the States. The crowd is just so responsive - we've had a great time."
In the men's 100 backstroke, Brian Retterer (USA) had the lead for 90 metres but Neisser Bent (CUB) had such a strong finish that he stole the lead to take his second gold. (He won the 200 backstroke earlier). The winning time was 52.77; Retterer posted 53.06, and a slightly off Adrian Radley (AUS) took third in 53.36.
"It was a great race," Retterer said. "I had to be ahead and was until the last 10 metres. Neisser was too strong. I am satisfied, even though it was not good enough to win."
In the women's 4x100 medley relay, China led throughout and had top efforts from all four swimmers. The Americans moved to second after Misty Hyman's fly leg (57.13) but couldn't catch the winners.
China's splits: Donghua Lu, 59.58; Xue Han, 1:08.50; Huijue Cai, 57.23; and Jingyi Le, 52.52.
Le expressed it best. "It was not easy, the competition was tough. The crowd was great and the cheering was so loud. Wow!"
The men's 4x100 free relay was the first gold for Germany in a relay. They chased Australia for the first half and then successfully held off a charged Swedish team. The crowd went wild when anchor Lars Frolander almost caught up.
The winning times: Germany 3:14.08, Sweden 3:14.22, and Australia 3:14.83.
Frolander electrified the crowd with his 47.22 anchor for Sweden.
He summed it up, "Close again!"
For the Germans it was a moment of triumph. Alexander Luderitz, who swam the third length, said, "It was close. We are all very happy."
In his last swim for Sweden, veteran Anders Holmertz said, "We were going for the gold medal. I was not happy with my own split (48.84) but Frolander did a great last leg."
Australian distance stars Kieren Perkins and Dan Kowalski can rest assured that, if and when they retire, there is home-grown talent worthy of taking their place. 16 year old Grant Hackett (AUS) swam a tough race with Germany's Jšrg Hoffmann to take the honours in the 1500 freestyle . "It hurt like hell," he said. "I wanted to go out hard and then try to hold Hoffmann off, but he came back on me. I thought he might die toward the end, which he did. So I just went for it.
"It is absolutely fantastic to beat him. I knew he would be in top form from his performances during the World Cup.
"In Perth, next January, the home crowd will be such a bonus. You can see here how the Swedes are motivating their swimmers. I am just going to work my butt off until then."
Hoffmann was not happy. "I am not satisfied. Second is better than fifth (400 free). But I will be motivated to work harder for the European and World Championships."
Surprisingly, the bronze went to someone sitting in the stands. Graeme Smith swam in the morning heats and went fast enough to beat out six of the top seeds.
The top times: Hackett (AUS) 14:39.54; Hoffmann (GER) 14:40.67; and Smith (GBR) 14:46.85.