WHAT: Women's 50-meter freestyle.
WHEN: Finals begin at 7:33 p.m.
THE AMERICANS: Angel Martino and Amy Van Dyken have won five gold medals between them, leading a U.S. women's team that many expected to be unimpressive. The threat of Chinese dominance never materialized, and American swimmers have reaped the benefits.
The biggest winners have been Martino and Van Dyken. Martino, 29, started the medal haul with a bronze in the 100 free, and added another bronze in the 100 butterfly and two golds in relays.
Van Dyken started in misery, collapsing onto the pool deck with leg cramps after finishing fourth Saturday in the 100 free. But she has collected three gold medals since: two in relays and the third after she amazed even herself with a victory in the 100 fly.
She could win her fourth tonight. The American record-holder, Van Dyken led the world in this event in 1995. Her best time this year is second only to China's Le Jingyi. Martino, who won a bronze medal in the 50 free in 1992, should be in the medal hunt _ possibly for the gold.
THE REST: Van Dyken and Martino likely will face the toughest challenges from Le, Russia's Natalia Mescheryakova and Germany's Sandra Volker.
Le is the Chinese women's swim team's only individual gold medalist. She cruised past Volker, Martino and Van Dyken to win the 100 free, and will be difficult to beat today. She is the world record-holder, the world champion and the only woman to break 25 seconds in the 50 this year.
Mescheryakova won the silver at the World Championships in 1994. Volker has been swimming extremely well this year. She holds the fifth-best time in the world in the 50 and has a silver medal from the 100 free.
_ SHARON GINN
1992: Yang Wenyi, China, 24.79.
1988: Kristin Otto, East Germany, 25.49.
(Event not held before 1988)
LE JINGYI: China, 24.51 (1994).
LE JINGYI: China, 24.93.
AMY VAN DYKEN: U.S., 25.17.
ANGEL MARTINO: U.S., 25.23.
NATALIA MESCHERYAKOVA: Russia, 25.31.
SANDRA VOLKER: Germany, 25.34.
SHAN YING: China, 25.36.
KAREN VAN WIRDUM: Australia, 25.79.
MARIANNE MUIS: Netherlands, 25.88.
AMY VAN DYKEN: U.S., 25.03.
NATALIA MESCHERYAKOVA: Russia, 25.19.
JENNY THOMPSON: U.S., 25.38.
ANGEL MARTINO: U.S., 25.40.
FRANZISKA VAN ALMSICK: Germany, 25.58.
ASHLEY CHANDLER: U.S., 25.64.
SHAN YING: China, 25.73.
SUMIKA MINAMOTO: Japan, 25.74.