MADRID — Matt Biondi, the world's fastest swimmer, managed only third place in the first-ever 50-meter freestyle final at the World Swimming Championships Friday, but fellow American Tom Jager took the gold.
West German Michael Gross failed in a bid to lower his world record while retaining his 200-meter butterfly title. But East German Kristin Otto added the 200-meter individual medley gold to the 100-meter freestyle title she won earlier in the meet.
Then she anchored the East German 400-meter medley relay team to victory as the United States finished second.
The U.S. team of Betsy Mitchell, Jenny Hau, Mary T. Meagher and Jenna Johnson posted a national record of 4 minutes 7.75 seconds.
The East German quartet of Kathrin Zimmermann, world breaststroke champion Sylvia Gerasch, world butterfly champion Kornelia Gressler and Otto, was clocked in 4:04.82 to set a championship record.
Igor Poliansky of the Soviet Union set a meet record of 55.58 seconds to win the 100-meter backstroke, but the East Germans won all three women's race events to bring their swimming haul to 12 golds from 13 events.
Biondi, 21, of Moraga, Calif., who holds the fastest time of 22.32 seconds in the 50 meters and is world champion and record-holder at 100 meters, posted a 22.85.
Jager, 22, from Collinsville, Ill., won in 22.59, while Dano Halsall of Switzerland took the silver in 22.80.
Gross was on course for beating his record for three-quarters of his final, but he tailed off and was timed in 1:56.53 seconds. His world mark is 1:56.24.
In the women's medley, Otto was fifth going into the freestyle leg, with Elena Dendeberova of the Soviet Union leading after the breaststroke.
But the 20-year-old swimmer from Leipzig splashed down the final length to win in 2:15.56.
Another East German success came in the women's 800-meter freestyle as Astrid Strauss edged countrywoman Katja Hartmann, with American Debbie Babashoff taking the bronze.
Strauss, silver medalist in the 400 meters, was timed in 8:28.24; Hartmann was two-tenths of a second slower. Babashoff's time was 8:34.04.
Olympic champion Yugoslavia won the men's water polo gold medal after a final against Italy that went to four periods of overtime. The Yugoslavs finally won, 12-11.