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Saturday, September 23
Thompson wins eighth gold medal

SYDNEY, Australia -- The United States left the pool with a bang Saturday, setting world records in decisive relay victories over host Australia on the final day of Olympic swimming.

U.S. swimmers
The U.S. men's 400 medley relay team awaits anchor Gary Hall Jr. to touch the wall.

Jenny Thompson won her eighth career relay gold -- her 10th medal overall -- and Gary Hall Jr. overpowered Aussie Michael Klim on the anchor leg as the Americans won the women's and men's 400-meter medley relays.

In the men's 400 medley relay, the team of Lenny Krayzelburg, Ed Moses, Ian Crocker and Hall won in 3 minutes, 33.73 seconds, lowering the mark of 3:34.84 set by Americans at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"With those guys, it's so inspiring," said Crocker, a 18-year-old from Portland, Maine. "I always get nervous before I swim. They calmed me down and told me to have fun."

It was Krayzelburg's third gold after victories in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. Hall picked up his second gold after tying teammate Anthony Ervin in the 50 freestyle Friday. Moses had won silver in the 100 breaststroke.

The United States won 33 medals, including 14 golds, during the meet in which 15 world records were set or tied at the Sydney International Aquatic Center. The host Australians claimed 18 medals and five golds.

After accepting their golds, the U.S. men unfurled a banner reading: "Sydney 2000. In our hearts forever. Thanks Australia."

In the women's relay, B.J. Bedford, Megan Quann, Thompson and Dara Torres won in 3:58.30, erasing the mark of 4:01.67 set by China at the 1994 world championships.

"By the time Jenny got in the pool, I knew we had the world record. I knew," said Quann, who won gold in the 100 breaststroke.

Australia's men and women settled for silver in both medley relays. The American women went 3-0 against their Aussie counterparts in the overall relays, while the U.S. men were 1-2.

The Aussie team of Matthew Welsh, Regan Harrison, Geoff Huegill and Klim took silver in 3:35.27.

Ian Thorpe, the 17-year-old Aussie sensation, wound up with three golds and a silver in his first Olympics. He set world records in the 400 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay, swimming the anchor leg, and finished second in the 200 freestyle. Thorpe's third gold was for swimming the 400 medley relay preliminaries.

With eight gold medals -- all in relays -- Thompson ended her swimming career one short of gymnast Larissa Lathynina of the former Soviet Union for most golds by a woman. She tied Torres for bronze in the 100 freestyle in Sydney, and won silver in the 100 freestyle at the 1992 Olympics.

After finishing third in the 50 freestyle, Torres hurried with her medal across the deck to prepare for the relay, which she anchored. Thompson, a 27-year-old from Dover, N.H., swam the butterfly portion.

"I'm really sad it's over," said Torres, in her fourth and final Olympics at 33. "It's been an unbelievable experience, a dream come true."


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