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DEBRUIJN TAKES 50 FREE <br> TORRES WINS BRONZE MEDAL

Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands, already the world's fastest woman sprinter, won the 50-meter freestyle Saturday for her third individual Olympic gold.

De Bruijn swam 24.32 seconds -- .19 seconds over the world record she set in Friday's semifinals.

Therese Alshammar of Sweden took silver in 24.51 seconds. American Dara Torres won bronze in 24.63.

American Amy Van Dyken, the defending Olympic champion, was fourth in 25.04.

De Bruijn set world records in winning the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly at these games. She also anchored the Dutch 400 freestyle relay team to silver.

Torres, who at 33 was swimming in her fourth Olympics after taking a seven-year break from the pool, earned her third individual bronze. She was third in the 100 butterfly and tied teammate Jenny Thompson for third in the 100 freestyle. She also was part of the world record-setting 400 freestyle relay.

Van Dyken, who won her fifth career gold in the 400 freestyle relay, was coming off two shoulder surgeries since her upset of China's Jingyi Li four years ago.

Grant Hackett of Australia won the gold medal in the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:48.33. Kieren Perkins of Australia won the silver and Chris Thompson of the United States won the bronze.

Finals were also held in the women's 400-meter medley and men's 400-meter medley.

But overall, American swimmers have made a mockery of their ballyhooed showdown with the Aussies.

"A lot of people doubted us," Anthony Ervin said. "This shows everybody back home that we're still the best."

Ervin and Gary Hall Jr. outraced a star-studded field to tie for gold in the men's 50 freestyle Friday, while Brooke Bennett left everyone in her wake for a second straight gold in the women's 800 freestyle.

The three golds -- combined with Kaitlin Sandeno's bronze in the 800 -- finished off the host country. With one day left and more medals likely, the United States increased its haul to 12 golds and 31 overall. Australia had 16 medals, five golden.

"We have come out and dominated the waters," said Hall, who fired everyone up Down Under by stating beforehand his desire to "smash them like guitars."

Hall, who turns 26 next week, has sure come a long way from the teenager sitting in front of a television, playing video games until his father literally threw him in the pool.

"You can probably still see my footprint on his rear end," said Gary Hall Sr., a three-time Olympian. "If I had not done it, he'd still be sitting in front of that television."

Instead, Hall wound up on top of the medal podium, a space he gladly shared with 19-year-old Ervin, the first swimmer of black heritage to make the U.S. team.

Hall and Ervin hit the wall at the same time -- 21.98 seconds -- for an unprecedented tie in a men's Olympic sprint.

The competitiveness between them was honed over the summer, when they trained together in Phoenix. The Olympic final seemed like just another day at the practice pool.

Of course, this pool included Alexander Popov, going for his third straight title in the 50, and Pieter van den Hoogenband, a two-time gold medalist in Sydney.

Van den Hoogenband touched third in 22.03, claiming another medal for the Netherlands. Popov, the 28-year-old Russian Rocket who has dominated for a decade, came in sixth at 22.24.

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