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Russia Wins in Goodwill Swimming

August 3, 1998

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ Aleksandr Popov and his Russian teammates were just too fast for the United States.

Carried by four 1-2 sweeps and victories in both of the relays that the U.S. men have traditionally dominated, Russia dealt the Americans their third straight dual-meet swimming loss at the Goodwill Games, 63-59, Sunday night.

The World All-Stars wrapped up the team gold medal with an 85-37 victory over Germany, giving them a 3-0 dual-meet record. Russia (2-1) won the silver and Germany the bronze (1-2).

The U.S. men, embarrassed by a 78-43 score against the World team on Friday, managed five sweeps of their own to more than cancel out the four events in which the Russians outscored them 8-1.

Popov’s the freestyle leg handed the U.S. men their first defeat of the week in the 400-meter medley relay for a 7-0 lead in the meet. World champions Lenny Krayzelburg and Kurt Grote got the Americans a big lead after the backstroke and breaststroke legs, and the margin was still a body length going into the freestyle, but Popov easily caught Dan Phillips and won by .60 seconds.

The Americans took a 59-56 lead into the final event _ the 400 freestyle relay _ but Popov, swimming second, extended a short lead to 1 1/2 body lengths and the Russians went on to win by 2.62 seconds. The United States lost the freestyle relay in all three dual meets, despite never having lost the event in the Olympics.

The United States won the next three events after the medley relay, including a 1-2 sweep in the 100 backstroke by Krayzelburg and Robert Brewer, to take an 18-16 edge.

Russia got the lead right back with a 1-2 sweep in the 50 freestyle by Popov and teammate Roman Yegorov, who were timed in 22.27 and 22.92 seconds to world champion Bill Pilczuk’s 22.99. But Popov lost the gold medal to Fernando Scherer of Brazil, who swam the event in 22.18 for the World All-Stars earlier Sunday.

Grote and Patrick Fowler got another sweep in the 100 breaststroke, tying for first place, but the Russians had 1-2 sweeps in the next two events, the 200 butterfly and 100 freestyle. Popov, the world record-holder and two-time Olympic champion in the 100, skipped the event to be in both relays. Swimmers were limited to three races a meet.

Krayzelburg, of Los Angeles, and Brad Bridgewater of Dallas made it closer with another 1-2 U.S. sweep in the 200 backstroke, and Grote, of San Diego, also won the 200 breaststroke, giving him two individual gold medals.

The individual star for the world team was Denis Sylantiev of Ukraine, who set meet records in both the 100 and 200 butterfly. He earned $5,000 in bonuses for having the fifth- and fourth-fastest times in history, respectively.

Luck wasn’t on the side of the American team.

Erik Vendt, of Easton, Mass., had the fastest time in the 400 freestyle before Sunday’s competition, but he lost the gold medal to Massi Rosolino of Italy by one-hundredth of a second, at 3:52.98.

But Vendt won the 800 and tied with Mark Warkentin of Santa Barbara, Calif., for first in the 400 against Russia.

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