PERTH, Australia — The U.S. swimming team is used to getting results from Janet Evans and Matt Biondi, but the diving team came up with a big surprise Wednesday in the World Championships.
Kent Ferguson, a six-time U.S. champion but never a winner at a major international meet, beat top-ranked Tan Liangde of China on the three-meter springboard.
"Wow, wow, wow!" Ferguson said. "I'm in a state of disbelief."
He took advantage of mediocre dives by Tan in the middle rounds and Germany's Albin Killat toward the end to take the lead and held it with an impressive finale, a reverse 1 1/2 somersault with 3 1/2 twists that got him 83.16 points, including two 9s and two 8.5s.
Tan, who had so often in the past dueled with Olympic champion Greg Louganis, needed an 85-point dive to win, but came up short on an inward 3 1/2 somersaults in the tuck position.
The United States never has lost the three-meter springboard at the world championships since it was introduced in 1973.
The U.S. success continued Thursday in the long-distance race. Chad Hundeby, twice The Times Orange County Swimmer of the Year while at Woodbridge, won the 25-kilometer race on the Swan River in 5 hours, 1 minute, 45.78 seconds, less than two minutes ahead of Italy's Sergio Chariandini.
Evans and Biondi sparked the U.S. swimming team, which had earned only one gold medal in the previous two days of competition.
Evans, a triple Olympic gold-medalist in 1988, earned her first world championship gold, beating Australia's Hayley Lewis with a 4:09.40 in the 400 freestyle.
It not only helped avenge Evans' loss to Lewis in the 200 freestyle, but also took some of the sting out of Evans' fourth-place finish in the 400 individual medley and a disqualification in the Evans-anchored 800 freestyle relay. "It's been a long few days," she said. "Especially with the 400 IM and then the relay. But I think I'll be better now for the 800 (freestyle)."
Biondi won the men's 100-meter freestyle in 49.18 seconds, well off his world record but a big victory for the Northern Californian.
"When I stood on the dais, I thought, 'I'm the fastest swimmer in the 100 freestyle on the whole planet,' " Biondi said. "When I won my first world title (in 1986), I didn't know what it meant. Having been in the sport a little longer, I realize the implications of what it is being best in the world."
The women's 400 freestyle relay team added a gold for the United States with a victory over Germany in 3:43.26.
That victory was especially sweet for Nicole Haislett, who caused the disqualification of the 800 relay when she left the side of the pool too early while swimming the second leg. In the 400 relay, she swam first with a split time of 55.74 seconds. The U.S. record is 55.17.