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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Upbeat U.S. Team Dominates in Pool

ATLANTA -- It was only four days ago that Amy Van Dyken's Olympic dream seemed headed for disaster. She was carried away on a stretcher after experiencing leg cramps so severe that she collapsed on the pool deck after finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle.

Her chances for a multimedal performance in the XXVI Olympiad suddenly seemed remote, but she came back to help the U.S. team win the 4 x 100 freestyle relay Monday and earned her first individual gold Tuesday night with a heart-stopping victory over China's Liu Li-min in the 100-meter butterfly.

"People told me I should pull out of it because I had no chance to win," said Van Dyken, who proved them wrong and joined Beth Botsford as the only American women to win individual gold medals.

Teammate Angel Martino seemed like a more likely candidate going into the race -- and was the leader for much of the last 50 meters -- but Van Dyken and Liu charged ahead and touched the wall in a near dead heat, with Van Dyken finishing on top by one-hundredth of a second at 59.13.

It was another very upbeat day for the U.S. team, even though it started with a disappointing performance by 400-meter individual-medley gold medalist Tom Dolan, who failed to qualify for the final of the 400-meter freestyle.

The Americans still raised their medal count to 17 in the first four days of the weeklong Olympic competition at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.

?American backstroker Jeff Rouse finally fulfilled his Olympic dream.

He was favored to win the 100-meter back at the '92 Games in Barcelona, but was out-touched by Canadian Mark Tewksbury.

This time, he went for the gold, finishing in 54.10 to thwart a surprising performance by Cubans Rodolfo Falcon and Neisser Bent. Fellow American Tripp Shwenk finished a disappointing fifth.

?South African Penelope Heyns held off a tremendous charge by precocious 14-year-old American Amanda Beard to win her second gold medal of the Games with an Olympic-record time of 2:25.41 in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Beard also broke Heyns' old Olympic record with a 2:25.75 finish.

?Gary Hall Jr. brought the U.S. team from behind with a world-record split in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay in carrying it to gold in an event that the United States has never lost.

Jon Olson, Josh Davis and Brad Schumacher swam solid splits to help the U.S. team set an Olympic record, but the Russian swimmers were leading the race when Hall hit the water.

"I think for underdogs, we've got quite a bit of bite," Van Dyken said. "I think people weren't expecting a lot of us, but we were expecting a lot of ourselves."

If this is the year of the Olympic woman, the U.S. team is taking it very seriously.

The American women have won nine swimming medals in the first nine events, including three golds and four silvers.

The men's team has four gold and four silver medals.