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Wednesday, September 20
Hyman, Van den Hoogenband win gold

SYDNEY, Australia -- Misty Hyman sank Madame Butterfly.

Hyman, a 21-year-old from Phoenix, stunned defending champion Susie O'Neill of Australia to win the 200-meter butterfly Wednesday in front of a raucous Aussie crowd at the Olympic pool.

"I had to look three times, I really did," Hyman said. "Then I started screaming and shaking."

Pieter van den Hoogenband
Pieter van den Hoogenband won his second gold medal Wednesday.

Hyman led all the way to win in an Olympic record 2 minutes, 5.88 seconds, just missing O'Neill's world record by seven one-hundredths of a second.

"I've played it over so many times in my head, but I never thought it would come true," said Hyman, who, discouraged by health problems and slow times, was ready to quit swimming in May.

In her signature race, O'Neill finished second in 2:06.58. Petria Thomas of Australia took bronze in 2:07.12.

O'Neill, known as "Madame Butterfly," broke the oldest record in swimming in May at the Australian Olympic trials when she lowered Mary T. Meagher's 19-year-old world record.

But Hyman went out strong and held a body-length lead over O'Neill at the 150-meter mark. The crowd of 17,500 at the Sydney International Aquatic Center urged O'Neill on with shouts of "Susie!" but the Aussie never made a run at Hyman.

"I swam as well as I could," O'Neill said. "Obviously, I'm disappointed. Unfortunately, I know my best time would've done it."

Hyman, a first-time Olympian, swam a lifetime best to stun O'Neill, who was the heavy favorite. She broke out in a huge grin and screamed "Oh, my God!" over and over when she realized she'd won.

O'Neill swam over to congratulate her.

The Dutch had another big night, thanks to their 1-2 punch of Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn.

Van den Hoogenband won gold in the 100 freestyle in 48.30 seconds, denying Russian Alexander Popov an unprecedented third straight Olympic title in the event.

"After 75 meters, I knew I would bring it home," the Dutchman said. "Now I want to party."

De Bruijn set her second world record of the Olympics in the semifinals of the 100 freestyle. It was the 12th world mark set or tied in five days of swimming.

Popov rallied from sixth at the turn to claim the silver at 48.69.

"I already have plenty of medals," said Popov, who trains in Australia. "I can't win everything. I have to share."

Gary Hall Jr., of Phoenix, second to Popov four years ago in Atlanta, took bronze in 48.73 -- beating Australia's Michael Klim by one-hundreth of a second. Neil Walker of Verona, Wis., was fifth in 49.05.

"I wanted to get out there and race, but I didn't know if I'd be in the medal count," said Hall, who said he was focusing on the 50 freestyle. "To make it up there pumps me up a little bit."

Van den Hoogenband became the first man to sweep the 100 and 200 freestyles since American Mark Spitz in 1972.

"At this moment, I'm the best," said Van den Hoogenband, who pointed at Popov, saying, "He's a legend."

Until her shocking victory, Hyman was known mostly for using a unique underwater fish kick that was banned by FINA, the sport's international governing body, in 1998. That forced her to change her racing style.

"It was a huge challenge," she said. "I had developed a technique for swimming that brought me to an elite level. I was not sure if I was an elite swimmer anymore."

Hyman was so discouraged and troubled with sinus and asthma conditions that she called her trainer in May with a message: "I'm ready to throw in the towel."

After receiving her gold medal, a giddy Hyman waved her floral bouquet and was swamped by American teammates, who spilled out of the stands and knocked over a cardboard barrier in their rush to congratulate her.

"I can't believe it," said Kaitlin Sandeno of Lake Forest, Calif., who was sixth in 2:08.81. "This all means the world for Misty and for our team. We're real pumped right now. It just means people they say can't be beat can be beat."

Rhythmic clapping broke out even before the 200 butterfly finalists appeared on deck. As they walked single file to their lanes, camera flashes twinkled in the stands and a quick chant of "USA! USA!" rang out for the two American women.

Watching from the stands, Chelsea Clinton beamed after Hyman pulled off the biggest upset so far on the fifth night of the eight-day meet.

De Bruijn qualified first for the eight-woman 100 freestyle final in 53.77 seconds, lowering the mark of 53.80 she set in May in Britain.

De Bruijn broke her first world mark Sunday when she won the 100 butterfly.

Swimming in the lane next to De Bruijn, Thompson was second-quickest in 54.40. Dara Torres of Beverly Hills, Calif., was third in 55.02. The final is Thursday.

Domenico Fioravanti of Italy became the first to ever sweep the men's breaststroke golds, winning the 200 by three body lengths in 2:10.87. He became the first Italian swimmer to win Olympic gold when he won the 100 breaststroke.

Terence Parkin of South Africa took silver and Davide Rummolo of Italy earned bronze. Kyle Salyards of Lancaster, Pa., was sixth in 2:13.27.

Lenny Krayzelburg of Studio City, Calif., and Aaron Peirsol of Irvine, Calif., qualified 1-2 for the 200 backstroke final.

Krayzelburg lowered the Olympic record for the second time Wednesday. He broke it in the morning preliminaries, then swam even quicker in the semifinals with a time of 1:57.27. Peirsol was second in 1:58.44.

Agnes Kovacs of Hungary set an Olympic record of 2:24.03 as the fastest qualifier for the 200 breaststroke final. Kristy Kowal of Reading, Pa., was fourth and Amanda Beard of Irvine, Calif., the 1996 silver medalist, grabbed the eighth and last spot in the final.

Tom Dolan of Arlington, Va., the 400 individual medley champion Sunday, led eight-men into the 200 IM final in 2:00.38. Tom Wilkens of Middletown, N.J., was sixth in 2:01.51.


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Swimming results

Thompson anchors U.S. to gold in 800 free relay

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