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Women strike gold again

Gold medalist Amy Van Dyken says she told you so.

Van Dyken, who fought off a strong challenge in the 100 butterfly, said she predicted the surprising strength of the women's team.

"This is a team that no one really expected anything out of," Van Dyken said. "They weren't looking for us. I said at the trials, "We're going to sneak in there, incognito, and blow the place up.' That's what we're doing."

Angel Martino, at 29 the oldest swimmer on the team, picked up her second bronze of the Games in the butterfly. Van Dyken won in 59.13, just one-hundredth of a second in front of Liu Limin of China. Martino's time was 59.23.

In the 200 breaststroke, Amanda Beard, America's 14-year-old star with the big finishing kick, pushed and pushed but still couldn't catch South Africa's Penny Heyns.

Beard, third after 150 meters of the 200 breaststroke, kept closing the watery gap separating her from Heyns but just fell short Tuesday night. Heyns won her second swimming gold medal of these Olympics in 2 minutes, 25.41 seconds, while Beard got silver in 2:25.75. Agnes Kovacs of Hungary was third in 2:26.57. Heyns is the first woman ever to win both breaststroke races in the same Olympics.

Two days earlier, Beard surged from behind but couldn't overtake Heyns in the 100 breaststroke and settled for second then, too.

After their dramatic duel, Heyns and Beard embraced each other across the lane divider, just below the starting blocks where Beard, of Irvine, Calif., had her usual slow start.

She was just fifth after the first 50 meters but moved into third behind Heyns and Australia's Samantha Riley, who finished third in the 100 breaststroke, after the second 50-meter lap. They stayed in those positions after 150 meters. That's when Beard began her charge.

Stroke by stroke, meter by meter, she challenged Heyns. If the race was 205 meters, Beard probably would have won.

The other American, 14-year-old Jilen Siroky, didn't make it past the morning qualifying heats, her first international event.

There were two surprise absences in the 200 breaststroke. The Chinese women continued their freefall when Lin Li, the 1992 silver medalist, and the Yuan Yuan, the 1994 world silver medalist, did not finish among the top eight in the preliminaries. Neither did the 1992 Olympic champion, Kyoko Iwasaki.