Originally created 07/31/98

American swimmers victorious



UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Jenny Thompson thought she was tired after a tough night at the Goodwill Games. Then she remembered how grueling, and successful, Cristina Teuscher's night had been.

"I am so spent," Thompson said after holding on in the final decisive event, the 400-meter freestyle relay. "The last 5 meters were fuzzy and in slow motion, like I was in `Saving Private Ryan."'

A night before, the final relay was the downfall of the U.S. men against Germany. This time, the U.S. team won.

The American women gained a 65-57 victory over the World All-Stars with a relay triumph anchored by Thompson, a five-time Olympic gold medalist. But Thompson said the real hero was Teuscher, who won the 800 and 400 freestyles and swam an outstanding third leg on the final relay.

"I shouldn't be complaining," said Thompson, 25, of Dover, N.H., holding her cramping side. "Cristina had a tougher night and she did a tremendous job."

"At least it got easier as the night went on -- from 800 to 400 to 100," said Teuscher, of New Rochelle, N.Y. "On relays, the energy and momentum take over. But I was pretty nervous about the three races I had to do."

The dual meet victory over the All-Stars put the Americans on the inside track for the team gold medal.

The two teams each won seven of the 14 events, but the United States won the meet because it finished 2-3 in five of the seven events the All-Stars won.

"It was a team effort because every single place counts in a dual meet," said Lea Maurer, 28, of Crestwood, N.Y., who won both backstroke events and swam a leg on the medley relay.

Thompson swam the butterfly leg on the medley relay and won the 100 butterfly in the seventh-fastest time in history, just five minutes before the freestyle relay.

No U.S. woman besides the three veterans won an individual event.

But Richelle Fox of Scotia, N.Y., played a big role in the freestyle relay. Swimming first, she took a one-second lead over Rania Elwani of Egypt.

Sylvia Bereknyei of Pittsburgh, Calif., maintained a half-second edge over Nadezhda Chemezova of Russia before Teuscher completed her grueling night by extending the margin to 1.3 seconds over Wilma Van Hofwegen of the Netherlands.

Martina Moravcova of Slovakia cut into the margin against Thompson, but couldn't catch her. The times were 3 minutes, 45 seconds for the United States and 3:45.39 for the World team.

"It was slow motion, but I made it to the wall," Thompson said.

In the other dual meet Thursday, Germany defeated China 80-42, the second straight defeat for the formerly formidable Chinese women's team.

Michelle Kwan dazzled the crowd and the judges at figure skating.

The two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist scored a string of 5.9s and one perfect 6 to take the lead after the women's short program.

European champion Maria Butrskaya of Russia was second and Viktoriya Volchkova of Russia was third.

It was another rough night for American boxers in the semifinals. They started with two straight losses to Russians -- Michael Evans in a 3-2 decision to featherweight Andrei Koslovsky, then light middleweight Jermain Taylor of Little Rock, Ark., in a 13-9 loss to Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov.

World champions Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov led the ice dance after the figure skating short program, ahead of another Russian couple, Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh. Americans Jessica Joseph and Charles Butler were fourth.

In women's beach volleyball, the top two teams stayed unbeaten, while the defending champions got their first win.

No. 1 Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar of Brazil beat Julien Manser and Kerri Pottharst of Australia, 15-9, before Lisa Arce and Holly McPeak of Manhattan Beach, Calif., defeated Eva Celboa and Sona Dosoudilova of the Czech Republic by the same score.

If they keep winning, the Brazilians and the Americans will meet for the championship Sunday in Central Park.

"We want to play them in the gold-medal match," Arce said. "That's the best scenario. They're good friends of ours and that's what we kind of said, `Win all your matches and we'll see you in the finals."'

Liz Masakayan and Karolyn Kirby of San Diego, losers in the opener against Manser and Pottharst, beat Canada's Kristine Drakich and Guylaine Dumont 15-5.

Meanwhile, gymnast Sang Lan was moved from a hospital on Long Island to Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Institute in Manhattan to begin the next step of rehabilitation from a practice accident that left her paralyzed.

She received a visit Thursday night from actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of "Titanic." The 17-year-old from China had asked to meet the actor while hospitalized at Nassau County Medical Center, where she was taken after she landed on her head during vault warm-ups July 21. Doctors say she probably never will walk again.