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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | TODAY IN SYDNEY

Malchow Flys to Olympic Mark

September 18, 2000|LISA DILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — World records are tumbling with such regularity at the Olympic swimming competition--eight in the first two days--that anything less almost escapes notice.

Monday's morning preliminaries passed without a world record, but American Tom Malchow managed to put his imprint on the proceedings, taking out the Olympic record in the 200-meter butterfly, going 1 minute 56.25 seconds. American Melvin Stewart had set the record, 1:56.26, in 1992.

"I finally got that out of the way," Malchow said.

Malchow, a silver medalist in the 1996 Olympics, was trying to keep the express moving after a strong second day in which the Americans went one-two in back-to-back events.

"Whatever we can do to keep the momentum going," he said. "Last night was unbelievable."

Malchow holds the world record of 1:55.18, and the other competitors in the field are aware of his explosiveness.

"He is very unpredictable," said Denys Sylant'yev of Ukraine, who had the second-fastest qualifying time (1:56.42) for tonight's semifinals.

"He can be great. It just depends on what is in his mind."

Olympic nerves were hardly a problem for 15-year-old Michael Phelps. Phelps, the youngest Olympic male swimmer on the American team since 1932, had the third-fastest qualifying time, 1:57.30, a personal best.

Malchow's Olympic record highlighted a strong session for the American team. In the women's 200 freestyle, USC alum Lindsay Benko and Rada Owen qualified for the semifinals. Australian Susie O'Neill had the fastest qualifying time, 1:59.14.

Americans Cristina Teuscher and Gabrielle Rose also advanced to the next round in the women's 200 individual medley. Rose, of Irvine Novaquatics, competed for Brazil in the Olympics at Atlanta and said she had a "big smile on her face" when she heard her country, the United States, announced before her heat.

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