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ATHENS 2004

Records Fall, Medals Won in Splashy Finale

August 22, 2004|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — Honors abounded for the Americans on the final day of the Olympic swimming meet Saturday night. Two world records. An American record. And one final medal for Jenny Thompson, who took home silver as a member of the relay team finishing second behind Australia's world-record performance in the 400-meter medley.

Natalie Coughlin and Amanda Beard gave Thompson a 1.68-second lead heading into the butterfly leg. But Petria Thomas whipped past Thompson and the Aussies held the lead, finishing in 3 minutes 57.32 seconds, beating the U.S. by 1.80 seconds.

With her 12th overall medal, Thompson became the most decorated U.S. Olympian, breaking a tie with swimmers Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi.

Two world records fell in the men's 400 medley relay. Even without Michael Phelps, who stepped aside for Ian Crocker, the U.S. led the entire way, winning in 3:30.68. Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Crocker and Jason Lezak broke the record of 3:31.54 that they set last summer.

Peirsol's leadoff 100 of 53.45 in the backstroke was another world record. He took out Lenny Krayzelburg's 1999 mark of 53.60.

One of the best races came in a terrific challenge to Grant Hackett of Australia, who nearly lost the 1,500 freestyle for the first time since 1996. Hackett, who won in 14:43.40, was threatened by Larsen Jensen of Mission Viejo, who trailed by 0.16 of a second heading into the final 100.

Jensen, 18, finished second in an American record, 14:45.29, dropping more than 10 seconds from his personal best.

"It went just as planned. I know I can't go out with Grant, I don't have the speed he does," Jensen said. "It's a dream come true to compete with this guy."

And there was one more moment of controversy. Gary Hall Jr., who was kept off the medley relay by U.S. men's Coach Eddie Reese, was fined $5,000 by USA Swimming for wearing an Everlast boxing robe on the deck before the 50 freestyle, according to the Arizona Republic.

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